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Tuesday, October 28, 2014

The Globe and Mail - Ottawa to blacklist employers that break provincial labour laws

The Conservative government is beefing up its blacklist of Canadian employers with a plan to include not only businesses found to have broken temporary foreign worker program rules, but also provincial labour laws.

The move is the latest in a series of policy changes responding to allegations of abuse related to the foreign worker program.

The expanded powers are contained in the Conservative government’s latest omnibus budget bill, which was introduced late last week. The enforcement of labour law is primarily a provincial responsibility and enacting the change will require information-sharing agreements between Ottawa and the provinces, something Employment Minister Jason Kenney has recently said he is working toward.

Read the rest of the article here

Monday, October 20, 2014

The Globe and Mail - Statistical black hole opens door to foreign workers

There are more than 30 First Nations reserves in northern Saskatchewan, many of which struggle with exceptionally high levels of unemployment. Yet none of the people living on those reserves are reflected in the regional unemployment rate, a key trigger that determines whether employers can apply to bring in temporary foreign workers for low-skill jobs.

This statistical oddity – reserves are not and never have been included in the labour-force survey – skews Canada’s true picture of unemployment and throws into question one of the government reforms meant to encourage employers to hire aboriginals and other Canadians before looking overseas. Despite a clamp down on the temporary foreign worker (TFW) program, the door to foreign workers remains open on First Nations, as illustrated by a Globe investigation that found a cafeteria owner on an Alberta reserve was granted approval to hire foreign workers even though an estimated 70 per cent of residents don’t have a job.

Read the rest of the article here

Monday, October 13, 2014

The Globe and Mail - Canada-U.S. drifting apart? Blame America

The Nanos poll revealing growing divergence of views between Canadians and Americans should not surprise anyone. But Canada is not to blame for the fact that we are drifting apart on so many issues, as some allege. Partisan sniping, or the well-known proclivity of Canadians to blame themselves when things sour – our ingrained apologist streak – should not blind us to reality. Canadians must wake up to what many of America’s erstwhile allies learned much earlier: The Obama Administration is one of, if not the weakest U.S. administrations on record in terms of global leadership and constructive bilateralism. That, together with a polarized, dysfunctional Congress and, more generally, an America that is turning inwards are among the reasons why the neighbourhood ardor is waning. And it is not simply Canadians who feel that way. Our Mexican friends feel jilted on immigration and border security, two issues that matter greatly to them. So too do America’s allies across the Atlantic and Pacific oceans whose profound sense of frustration with an America in retreat is palpable.

Read the rest here

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Happy Thanksgiving

The year rolls on and here we are again at Thanksgiving time in Canada. While I will not be home (in the U.S. for a couple more days, still), I called my family in Canada to wish them a blessed day and year ahead. I can tell I'm becoming more and more Canadian with each year when I come to think of Thanksgiving in October, rather than November as it is in The Old Country.

I celebrate both Thanksgivings though, and will continue to.

You can't be too thankful after all!

Thursday, October 09, 2014

The Globe and Mail - Poll finds Canadians, Americans moving apart

Canadians and Americans continue to drift apart, souring a relationship that’s likely to get worse as long as Prime Minster Stephen Harper and President Barack Obama remain in power, according to a leading Canadian pollster.

“More of the same,” a relationship adrift, said Nik Nanos, chairman of Nanos Research, adding: “We won’t get a reset until Obama and Harper are no longer leading their respective countries.”

Read the rest of the article here

Wednesday, October 08, 2014

"Buy American" - another bad idea from the people that brought you "Too large to fail"

"Buy American" programs in the U.S. are well intentioned: The idea that the federal government will spend it's money on American products and not foreign ones. But like many good concepts, it can get a bit messy in implementation; especially when you have something called NAFTA. Oh wait - NAFTA is only free trade for the U.S. - my bad.

Here's the story of American protectionism gone wrong: A small public bridge in Colorado was built with American steel, but because that steel was rolled in the American company's Canadian plant, it became "foreign", and no longer qualified for federal dollars.

Buy America ruling reversed on Colorado bridge made with Ontario steel

Tuesday, October 07, 2014

it's official - I've lost touch with the U.S.

Two weeks into my latest visit to 'The Old Country" and I have to say, the overwhelming feeling I am having about the U.S., home, and everything here is that I've lost touch with it. The issues that matter to family and friends don't ring with me; I've lost track of changes around me; but the saddest thing is the state of friends and family.

Most of my friends and family know I only come home a few times a year at best, and know in advance when I'm coming. But I guess leaving is leaving, and they don't seem to make much effort when I'm back to see me. Only my closest friends (count them on a few fingers of one hand) reach out to me when they know I'm coming home.

Maybe it's more of a reflection of how I lived my life when I was here than anything else. Maybe I have a faulty, romantic memory that we were all closer than I believed? I understand that everyone lives their own life, and gets on with it; maybe the issue is I wanted to believe I mattered more than I do. I guess everyone wants to feel that way though.

So, save for my closest family and a couple friends, I might as well not be home at all. Maybe in the future I wont bother to let anyone know I'm coming back. As it is, I mainly feel like a ghost, haunting my old neighbourhood, making sounds no one can hear.