Friday, May 30, 2014

Temporary Foreign Wanking

Evan Solomon asks why restaurants don't just raise wages to attract workers : "Guess what? This is the criticism - raise the wages and they will come."

Jerry Lundegaard Garth Whyte of Restaurants Canada : "So let's raise it to $100 an hour - we'll still need them [temporary foreign workers]. That's the issue, we have, uh, you know, people, we're, this is well above the average wage, we're putting it well above ... "        [h/t Press Progress for above vid]

Ok, let's look at that. This is Slide #20 in a 2012 powerpoint presentation given by Ron Reaman, VP, Ontario, of Restaurants Canada, formerly known as CRFA [Canadian Restaurant and Foodservices Association],  bragging about their lobbying success in freezing the minimum wage in 2011 : 
hi-liting mine 

And here's slide #21 - a survey of Restaurants Canada's members :

Q: What factors, if any, are currently having a negative impact on your business?

Notable that while 67% of them answered "Rising labour costs", slightly less than a third complain about "Shortage of skilled labour" and only 14% say "Shortage of unskilled labour".

Both slides rather put the boots to Garth Whyte's plaint at top that importing temporary foreign workers is not about wages, and by extension, keeping them down for everyone else.

Back in November 2007, Mr Reaman and Joyce Reynolds of CRFA appeared before the Standing Committee on Industry, Science and Technology to complain about labour shortages. Ms Reynolds suggested "a bridge from temporary to permanent residency" for temporary foreign workers and that they be allowed to apply for it from within the country. 

She then thanked the Conservative government through the Chair for streamlining the LMO process and raising the number of years TFWs could remain in the country from one to two years. She asked that it be increased once more to four years. And lo - in 2011, it was.

More on Restaurants Canada and its US lobby counterpart.

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Rock the Hill 2014

Rock the Hill News Release
Ottawa, May 28, 2014 –Veterans, families and fellow Canadians will come together on Parliament Hill beginning June 4, 2014. This peaceful gathering is set to be the largest demonstration in support of veterans since the First World War, which began 100 years ago.
Unlike the politically scripted photo ops of military members and veterans which have inundated Canada’s media these past eight years, “Rock the Hill” is a truly grassroots apolitical initiative bringing Canadians together with veterans and their families.        
From their website
"Canada's Veterans are planning on going to Ottawa on June 4th to protest the total breach of trust that this government has shown towards us and the disregard of the sacred oath that has been in place since World War I. 
We also plan to enlighten the public on the amount of misinformation that this government is putting out with documented proof. 
By doing so we will be showing this government that we are no longer going to just stand by and take the continued mistreatment of our rights.
You don't have to be a Vet, or have anything to do with the military, to show your support. Actually, the more civilians the better. 
This will not be just a one-day event, as we plan on staying as long as it takes."

So naturally today there was a Con counterattack ...

Tories spending $4M more on veterans ads to counter 'misinformation': Fantino
Veterans Affairs is spending an additional $4 million on advertising this year — including television spots throughout the NHL playoffs ... The TV ads emphasize efforts to move soldiers smoothly from military to civilian life....
Liberal critic Frank Valeriote pointed out that this year's federal budget increased transition services for veterans by only $11,000.
"I'm wondering how you can justify for us your department spending more on advertising — a $4-million increase in advertising — and less on the actual programs themselves," Valeriote said. 
Fantino defended the increase, saying the ads are an attempt by the government to communicate directly with veterans and dispel what he called "misinformation" surrounding the treatment of ex-soldiers.
"We are faced with the bantering that goes back and forth about what is or isn't (covered); what facts and non-facts are; and also the fear mongering."  
Jenifer Migneault, whose husband Claude Rainville was diagnosed with PTSD eight years ago, has tried to raise awareness, but she said she can't get Conservative MPs — including Fantino's parliamentary secretary, Parm Gill — to return her calls.
"Please just use that money to talk to us," she said. 
Last year Veterans Affairs spent $88,194 to promote tweets for Remembrance Day and $15,500 on advertising services to veterans.

You can watch Fantino running away from Migneault today here.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

A National Prayer Breakfast for Israel, Pipelines, and Evangelicals

What an odd photo this is. 

Chuck Strahl -
  •  former Aboriginal Affairs Minister and Chair of SIRC, 
  • Enbridge lobbyist and Chair of the Manning Centre, 
  • member of the Christian and Missionary Alliance along with Stephen Harper and Preston Manning 
is seen here wearing a FN headdress and giving a speech at the first Annual National Aboriginal Prayer Breakfast in Ottawa on June 21 last year. You'll notice he's speaking in front of the flags of Israel, Canada, and the U.S. - but none that I can see for First Nations.

Seated is Prayer Breakfast founder and former Cree chief Kenny Blacksmith of Gathering Nations International, a ministry to "promote a charter of forgiveness between First Nations and the government, churches and people of Canada".  In 2010 Blacksmith organized the National Forgiven Summit for First Nations, Metis and Inuit people to come to Ottawa to accept Stephen Harper's 2008 apology for residential school abuses. 
Harper's outreach to First Nations is looking a tad tattered recently in light of his determination to push his tarsands-to-tankers pipeline scheme through FN lands to the west coast whether they like it or not.

Blacksmith's 2006 Covenant of the First Peoples of Canada, which appears to have garnered more support among evangelicals than First Nations, has 12 signatory witnesses, of which one is anti-abortion crusader Faytene Kryskow Grasseschi who administered Blacksmith's National Forgiven Summit facebook page

Appearing on 100 Huntley Street, flagship of Christian broadcaster Crossroads International whose chairman accompanied Harper to Israel in January, Blacksmith explained why Article One of the Covenant proclaims to "bless Israel"
"We recognize the Jewish people as the first of all First Nations - they are a very tribal people and in fact you know I've always told our people that the Jewish people have a role in place to restore the integrity of the gospel of Christ back to our people."
Also speaking at last year's Breakfast was the co-host of The 700 Club Canada, and Christian Zionist Rev. James Goll from Tennessee, author of "Praying For Israel's Destiny : Effective Intercession for God's Purposes in the Middle East".

The breakfast was co-hosted by two anti-abortion crusaders, Con Senator Don Meredith - who received an honorary Doctor of Divinity from the a fore-mentioned 100 Huntley Street - and Enbridge pipeline booster Con MP James Lunney, who also accompanied Harper on his big trip to Israel in January, along with David Hearn, president of Strahl and Harper's church, the Christian and Missionary Alliance.

So - some peculiar links revealed in an odd photograph taken by Campaign Life Coalition  activist Paul Lauzon. 

All of which is just by way of my introduction to Amy MacPherson's brilliant The Granddaddy of Government Scandals, a research project that began investigating the federal government links to the anti abortion lobby and grew and grew and grew ....

Sunday, May 18, 2014

So if I understand the argument correctly, Restaurants Canada members employ 1.1 million workers of which TFWs only comprise 2% - a tiny fraction and certainly not enough to impact Canadian unemployment - but if restaurants can't have them they'll be forced to "scale back their business and even close their doors".
Ergo, TFWs are protecting Canadians' jobs!  Got it., sponsor of the flyer at left which is also a petition to MPs, is brought to you courtesy of Smithcom, "a boutique communications firm dedicated to reputation management."
h/t NTFW   

Smithcom's President "was instrumental in driving the growth of Hill and Knowlton in its inception in Canada and then founded and led Fleishman-Hillard."

I think Restaurants Canada, formerly CRFA, would have benefited from Smithcom's market expertise a little sooner - perhaps sometime before Canadian workers were being denied work , or being laid off and replaced by a 926% increase in accommodation and food services TFWs since the Cons came to power.

In case you're wondering who the two guys in the Restaurants Canada flyer/petition up top are, they are an "African chef and a Hispanic businessman" featured on a St. Louis Missouri University website for a course in Dietetics. 
The same photo is used at Restaurant Canada's US lobby counterpart, the National Restaurant Association aka "The Other NRA" - a $680 billion industry representing KFC, McDonald’s, Starbucks, Taco Bell, etc. They have been sending petitions like the one above to members of Congress and threatening closures if they can't get more TFWs since at least the year 2000.

Both orgs have lobbied to cap the minimum wage for all workers.

The NRA was busted by the NYTimes last month for circulating a petition against raising the US minimum wage to $10.10 an hour that was fronted by an unwitting Nobel economist and distributed under his name. It was then signed by over 500 prominent economists and released to the media with nary a mention of the NRA.

In Canada, slide #20 of a powerpoint presentation by the VP of CRFA/Restaurants Canada  boasted

"Due to CRFA’s lobbying efforts, Ontario froze the minimum wage in 2011 - saving the industry $266 million."

Meanwhile, from yesterday's G&M : Foreign worker reforms clash with trade agenda
"The Conservative government’s overhaul of the temporary foreign worker program is on a collision course with its ambitious plans to sign trade deals that would allow more foreign workers to enter Canada hassle-free. 
The final text of the much-vaunted Canada-European Union free trade agreement (CETA) is expected to include a list of occupations that can be fast-tracked into Canada and would allow European firms to bring European workers into Canada through inter-company transfers, with reciprocity for Canadian firms.  
The Conservative government has described the deal’s provisions for temporary entry of labour as “the most ambitious ever in a free trade agreement.”
Temporary entry of labour the most ambitious ever in a free trade agreement.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Steve's Economic Action Scam

  1. Vastly inflate the stats for supposed job vacancies and skill shortages in Canada by basing them on a program that counts online classified ads, including one on eBay that features the same jobs posted multiple times.
  2. Refuse to divulge the questionable source of the now vastly inflated stats being used to implement government policy because - commercial confidentiality.
  3. Tighten up eligibility requirements for employment insurance because - hey, tons of jobs out there going begging.
  4. Send Kenney off to Ireland to encourage 10,000 Irish students to come to Canada with their newly issued open work permits just as Canadian students hit the street looking for summer jobs.
  5. Mandate employers to post 'help wanted' ads on the government job bank site where they sit undated for up to six months or a year after they are filled, thus providing further evidence for the illusion of a serious labour shortage .
  6. Give employers a time limit of four weeks to not respond to Canadian job applicants, after which they are free to import hundreds of thousands of temporary foreign workers thus driving unemployment up and wages down. 
  7. Mission accomplished.
  8. Quietly delete the bogus inflated stats from gov. labour market data after you get busted for basing government policy on an eBay service whose proprietor explained "the job postings on the site are rising in part because the site itself has had major growth in terms of popularity."
Are we done with the myth of Conservative competence in all matters economic yet?

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Ottawa job bank scam

I'll bet you've already guessed what Step #2 is -- replying to the Canadian applicants.

"Employers are required to post job listings seeking Canadian workers first, and leave those ads up for four weeks, before they can be given the green light to hire temporary foreign workers.
"I probably apply for about five jobs a month from the job bank and I have for a few months," said one job-seeker, speaking on condition of anonymity for fear of harming his employment prospects.
"I have never heard a word back from any of the companies I've applied to." 
An email address set up by The Canadian Press in recent weeks has also failed to garner any responses from employers when asking for more information about postings in various sectors. One of the jobs included a shelf-stocking position at a Canadian Tire in Red Deer, Alta., that already employs several temporary foreign workers.
Employers need only tell the government that they were unable to find a qualified Canadian after posting their positions on the job bank." 
Canada's economy unexpectedly loses 28,900 jobs in April
"The number of employees plunged in April to a loss of 46,000 jobs, a figure that was offset in part by the addition of 17,200 self-employed positions.   ....the biggest loss struck the accommodation and food services industry, where 32,200 fewer people found work."

They get their raw data from Employment and Social Development Canada - the same federal department under Minister Jason Kenney that runs the Ottawa job bank at top . 
Companies hiring temporary foreign workers in southern Ontario :

Companies hiring temporary foreign workers in Vancouver : 

h/t  Jennifer McMackon for CTV link on Ottawa job bank scam.
Monday update - left in comments below by the reporter who wrote the CP story at top of post :
"Hey everyone! I wrote that story and would love to talk to people who have heard nothing back when applying for jobs on the job bank. I set up a fake email address and no one has ever replied to me when I have emailed several times asking for more information about various postings. If you have had a similar experience, please email me at 

Friday, May 09, 2014

The March of the Catholic Schoolchildren

May 4 - 9  2014 is Catholic Education Week in Canada - the details of which you could read about here if you were allowed to, which apparently you aren't. 

The program agenda entails several pages of Ontario Catholic schools and their projects for the week under the theme "Serving in the Love of Christ". 

Yesterday, Thursday, was "Serve with Justice" Day which evidently entailed bussing hundreds of their students to Parliament Hill in Ottawa to attend Campaign Life Coalition's March For Life anti-abortion rally ... in what JJ in comments over at Dammit Janet! calls "The March of the Catholic Schoolchildren". 
Ha! An Unrepentant Old Hippie sighting!

Catholic school boards paid for students to attend anti-abortion rally
For critics, public funds being used to transport students to a rally against abortion — a right guaranteed by the Supreme Court of Canada — is controversial.
The annual March For Life rally, organized by national pro-life group Campaign Life Coalition, is now in its 17th year. The group aims to defund abortion services in Canada and ultimately eliminate the practice. They also take issue with gay marriage, gay-straight alliances in schools, transgender identities, comprehensive sex education and stem-cell research.
A variety of reactions from the faithful on the podium greets two streaking prochoice protesters :

The unperturbed speaker at the mike, according to this guy who rattled off the names of dozens of attending cardinals and bishops, is Cardinal Gerald Cyprien Lacroix, archbishop of Quebec, delivering a special message from the Pope :
"His Holiness Pope Francis is pleased to greet everyone taking part in the 17th National March For Life in Ottawa and he assures them of his spiritual closeness as they give witness to the God-given dignity, beauty and value of human life. He prays that this event foster greater respect for the inviable right to life of each person from conception to natural death and supports the efforts of all who labour to ensure that this fundamental right receives adequate legal protection."
His Holiness is evidently not a fan of "My body, my rules" as an integral part of the "dignity, beauty and value of human life" that requires "adequate legal protection".

Chronic abortion bill pez dispenser and Con MP Stephen Woodworth was saddened to hear that all NDP MPs are pro-choice and Justin Trudeau will not be allowing any more anti-choice candidates into the Liberal Party :
"I feel very sad for my colleagues in the Liberal Party that democratic procedures and diversity of opinion is giving way to kind of this top-down ideological approach," Woodworth told CBC News 
and on twitter :  "When did LPC become merely a tool for the leader's personal ideology?"

Irony sighs and wonders if it's too late to get a job doing vaudeville instead.

Monday, May 05, 2014

Rachel Maddow rips Kinder Morgan

                                                        see update below 

A clearly "gob-smacked" Rachel Maddow rips into Kinder Morgan for touting the local economic benefits of oil spills :
"Spill response and clean-up creates business and employment opportunities for affected communities" depending on "the willingness of local businesses and residents to pursue response opportunities" 
in a 90 second clip from Press Progress who broke the original story.

Maddow's full show on pipeline and crude oil train transport safety opens with the "12 meter geyser of crude oil" spraying over a Burnaby BC neighbourhood in 2007 after a Kinder Morgan pipeline was accidentally punctured by a backhoe doing streetwork. 

Maddow notes that the Houston, Texas-based Kinder Morgan has applied to triple the capacity of its Trans Mountain pipeline from 300,000 barrels per day to 890,000 barrels per day in a $5.4B expansion proposal bringing tarsands crude to Westridge Marine Terminal in ... Burnaby!

Maddow :
"Turn that frown upside down, oil-soaked neighbourhood! You can get a job cleaning it up if you just have the right attitude ... We’ll make it worth your while - you'll get a job out of it! That is seriously what Kinder Morgan is arguing to the freaking Canadian government about why they should be allowed to triple the capacity of their pipeline. More oil means more chances for oil spills and more oil spills means more jobs cleaning up oil spills! ... If you let us triple the size of our pipeline, we might spill more oil and then you could hire yourselves to clean it up."
The whole show is well worth a watch if only for the collected video footage of oilspill after tanker train spill in towns and rivers and wheatfields being allowed to burn themselves out for four days before any clean-up even starts because apparently that's the best oilspill  emergency response we've got.

No wait ... we do have a better emergency response actually. 
It's called the Tsleil-Waututh Nation, located right across the Burrard Inlet from the Burnaby terminus of Kinder Morgan's Trans Mountain pipeline, and they are launching a legal challenge to the National Energy Board's review of the tarsands-to-tankers pipeline.
"The process to review Kinder Morgan's proposed pipeline expansion and tanker project was designed without First Nations consultation or public participation. The timelines appear to have been designed to rush through approvals," says Chief Maureen Thomas.
I guess the Tsleil-Waututh Nation aren't too excited by the promise of "employment opportunities for affected communities" in Kinder Morgan's oil spill proposal.
Tuesday update : Kinder Morgan was unhappy at being pilloried by Rachel Maddow and issued a statement that their remarks were taken out of context :
“it’s part of what the NEB expects us to provide in the application" and KM was  "required to analyze both positive and negative effects of a spill in its project application"
This morning a National Energy Board regulator says that's crap :
"A manual provided to all applicants asks them to assess the project’s expected overall beneficial and adverse socio-economic and environmental impacts, according to the NEB’s Sarah Kiley.
“It does not say that we expect to see an assessment of the positive benefits of a potential spill. In this case, (Kinder Morgan) has chosen to indicate that there will be economic benefits as the result of a spill or malfunction.”

Sunday, May 04, 2014

Here's looking at you, kid

Nine out of 12 big telecoms in Canada deigned to reply to Privacy Commissioner Jennifer Stoddart with info about their disclosure of customer data to law enforcement in 2011
  • Law enforcement agencies made 1,193,630 requests for subscriber data in 2011
  • Or, one request every 27 seconds
  • Three telecom providers alone disclosed information from 785,000 customer accounts
  • If each request had been for a different subscriber, that would work out to one in every 28 Canadians including babies
  • In 2010, 94% of RCMP requests for name and address were made without a warrant
  • Customers are not informed their private info has been disclosed
  • At least one telecom appears to have instituted a special law enforcement direct access database
And this info, these figures, are three years old.
Meanwhile the Cons look to expand that cozy relationship with two new bills :
  • Bill C-13, the cyberbullying bill, will also give immunity from civil or criminal liability to telecoms coughing up info without a warrant
  • Bill S- 4 extends the ability to disclose subscriber info without a warrant to private sector organizations as well
As telecom customers, we're paying them twice to peddle our info - once when we pay the telecoms to collect the info about us and deliver it to law enforcement and again when law enforcement agencies use our taxes to pay the telecoms for the info.

The irony here is how important privacy and anonymity are to the telecoms - their own at least.
Their response to Stoddart included the strategy of having their answers collated by a law firm and delivered to her as a bulk package that doesn't identify which telecom provided each piece of info. Why? To preserve their own privacy and anonymity.

Remember when we were aghast to learn that there was a "Canadian Special Source" providing CSEC with wifi data on random Canadians as part of a 2012 airport surveillance exercise? Ah the good old days of three whole months ago. 

Want to know what your telco has divulged about you? They are compelled by law to respond to you with something if you ask as an individual subscriber to their services.
Citizen Law provides a template letter and the telco contact details to send it to. Takes just a few seconds. When I get my response, I'll post it.

h/t  Lux ex Umbra and Michael Geist

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