The Honourable Candice Bergen, Minister of State (Social Development), along with business leaders, social agencies, and members from all levels of government last night participated in the 4th Annual CEO Sleepout event. Over 145 participants camped out overnight on Portage Street in Winnipeg in order to raise awareness and support homeless employment programs.
Because downtown commuters are somehow unaware that other human beings are sprawled strategically at busy intersections. They are perfectly aware and deliberately ignore what they see. Partly it's human nature to ignore the unpleasant, partly it's an understanding as to the unacknowledged nature of homelessness.
People sleep on the streets not because of a lack of funding, immigrants who barely speak English are able to tap the social safety net, it's because being homeless is a symptom not a cause. The primary drivers are mental illness and addiction. A humane society might identify those lacking the capacity to make decisions, such as those who wander about begging for money while mumbling incoherently, and place them in specialized hospitals. We used to do that. However flawed that approach the current method seems hardly better.
But our modern age believes protective custody would be cruel. A much kinder thing to leave people to freeze in a Canadian winter. A far more compassionate thing to have a minister of the crown play at being homeless as if to mock these people's plight. Like Marie Antoinette playing at peasant.
When Conservative MP Michael Chong launched his bid to rebalance the power between MPs and party leaders, it was seen as a noble, if doomed, endeavour — a quixotic campaign to restore a modicum of dignity to beleaguered backbenchers that would almost certainly be squelched by the front benches at the earliest possible opportunity.
That is until the PMO and the Whips decided to "help" Mr Chong:
He announced last week that, after having "consulted widely with colleagues from all parties," he was prepared to change the bill in response to their "constructive criticism."
Under his latest offer, the bill would still amend the Elections Act to strike out a section requiring the party leader to sign off on nominations, but it would be up to the party to designate who should have the final say — which would presumably include simply leaving it in the hands of the leader.
I love the phrase "constructive criticism." You have the sneaking suspicion that Chong was sent to a Tory re-education camp in northern Alberta for "counter-revolutionary activities." I'm having visions of Peter Van Loan wearing a Mao-style tracksuit and yelling "Revionist!" at the inmates. Perhaps they were also smelting iron in backyard furnaces to produce steel.
Of course I'm joking. Peter Van Loan would never be caught dead wearing a tracksuit.
What is fascinating, in a grim sort of way, is that Chong wasn't forced to withdraw the bill, he was compelled to emasculated it with his own hands. A cruel and fitting punishment for his outrageous disloyalty. Had the Harperist High Command simply stomped on the bill, or allowed it to die on the Order Paper, the not always bright lights in the Press Gallery would have noticed and commented upon it. By allowing the bill to go forward, but as a harmless shell of legislation, the party leadership has neatly defused this political bomb with a minimum level of collateral damage. It's clever and cynical in a way that makes your skin crawl.
Michael Chong showed uncommon political bravery, or gross naivety, when he objected in 2006 to the Tories' the Quebecois-nation-within-a-united Canada gambit. It was empty political theatre but still grossly offensive to we Diefenbaker-style One Canada types still kicking around. Having left cabinet as a matter of principle for that disgrace, Mr Chong then proposed this bill as a matter of principle as well. But the bill, as it is now constituted, is so bereft of principles it could stand as a Liberal candidate in Papineau. So why not withdraw it?
If Mr Chong's real goal is reform this bill won't do it. It's cheap and tawdry window dressing. The honourable course of action is to denounce the bill and, if necessary, resign from caucus. That might spell the end of what's left of Michael Chong's political career. It would be a small price to pay for embarrassing not only the Tory leadership but for all the party leaders for having tacitly sanctioned this indignity to what's left of parliamentary government.
Fifty years ago this Sunday night, Canada successfully invaded America, or more precisely, Johnny Wayne and Frank Shuster made their legendary first appearance on the Ed Sullivan show.
They performed "Rinse the Blood Off My Toga," a wry historical parody of the type they excelled at. In tough detective-story style, private eye Flavius Maximus (Wayne) pursued Brutus (Shuster) for the murder of Julius Caesar.
There are days when the blogging gods are very kind to me. This is one of those days:
In 2004, native protesters on the Kanesatake reserve in southwestern Quebec attacked a police station and set it on fire.
And they used a bulldozer in the attack – later seized by police.
The courts ordered it destroyed. Except bureaucrats at the department of Public Works made a mistake.
They didn’t destroy it; they sold it privately – for $5,555.
Does it really matter if the bulldozer was destroyed or sold off? The idea is to seize property used in a criminal enterprise. Will the criminals' feelings be hurt if the confiscated property is sold off instead of scrapped? Apparently the answer to that question is yes. The "protesters" in question demanded the bulldozer back. Which is pretty funny when you think about it. Does a non-aboriginal man who shoots his wife with a rifle get the rifle back when his prison sentence is over?
But that's not all folks. No sir. With the Government of Canada the fun never stops.
Now here is where things get really wacky. The bulldozer apparently “has a special significance for a group of aboriginal people in Kanesatake.”
No doubt. Perhaps it's their sacred bulldozer. Reminiscent of the bulldozers their ancestors used before the white man came. Anthropologists have well documented the role of heavy construction equipment in traditional aboriginal culture. Many of our readers will recall from their history textbooks how Joseph Brant used bulldozers to aid the British during the Revolutionary War. It is for this reason that the American rebels bestowed upon him the nickname "Bulldozer Brant."
Seriously. Just look it up.
So realizing they had accidentally sold off rather than scrapped the Sacred Bulldozer of Kanesatake, not that it really matters when you think about it, the bureaucrats then wanted the bulldozer back. Naturally the fellow who got the bargain basement bulldozer, with its holy magic powers, had no intention of selling it back. Our public servants, being the skilled negotiators that they are, wrestled the new owner to the ceiling and paid ten times the initial sale price.
Now for the really funny part, at least if you're not a Canadian taxpayer, the aboriginals who wanted their Holy Sacred Bulldozer back lost their case. So the bureaucrats were stuck with an overpriced bulldozer they no longer needed. Having gone through this remarkable bit of rigmarole our public servants have decided, no prizes for guessing, that the perfectly usable overpriced Holy Sacred Bulldozer is getting sent to the scrap heap anyway.
Never, ever forget that these people think they're smart enough to run our health care, teach our children and defend our borders.
The ability to lie or manipulate is more important to getting a job, keeping a job and getting promoted than actual talent or work ethic. This long observed truism of corporate life has finally been struck upon by business school researchers:
A study by University of Manitoba professor Nicolas Roulin found that hiring managers and recruiters can seldom detect when an applicant is using deceptive tactics in an interview. These can range from outright lying to more subtle attempts by candidates to make themselves look good, such as embellishing credentials or overstating past accomplishments.
For their next project researchers will determine that business people like money. The more money the better.
David Tovar, who announced last week that he was leaving the job as vice president of communications, has previously said he earned a bachelor of arts degree from the University of Delaware in 1996. Wal-Mart discovered he never received the degree while he was being evaluated for a promotion to senior vice president, which had prompted due-diligence screening, said the person, who asked not to be identified because the matter is private. Tovar, 40, joined Wal-Mart in 2006 after working for the tobacco and snack-food company Altria Group Inc.
Ignoring the fact that Mr Tovar seems to have lied on his resume, which given the moral morass that is modern recruiting is hardly that unusual or even unseemly, what exactly is the problem here? This was a man on the verge of being made a senior vice president at Wal-Mart's global head office. That would suggest a certain level of ability, even if in the somewhat subjective field of corporate communications. Yet he had attained this measure of success without having completed a university degree in the "arts." Which begs the question: What value would the arts degree have actually provided?
What skills, knowledge or understanding would merely owning a magical piece of paper have bestowed upon Mr Tovar? Clearly not enough to have seriously impaired his promotion in the corporate world. It's very unlikely that he would have been hired by Wal-Mart without a degree being shown on his resume. Yet not actually possessing the degree had no noticeable impact on his job performance.
Imagine an alternate universe in which HR hiring managers only looked at applicants if they had a blue tie. No matter how intelligent, experienced and brilliant at your job the HR staff would reject any applicant who refused to wear a blue tie. The actual quality of the tie, or the shade of blue, would be irrelevant. You just had to have a blue tie dangling from your neck during the interview.
For many jobs in the corporate world a university degree is the blue tie.
Office of the Minister of the Environment, Minister of the Canadian Northern Economic Development Agency (CanNor), and Minister for the Arctic Council
Today, Minister Aglukkaq announced an investment in design work for a proposed eco-park in Arviat as part of the Government of Canada’s broader strategy to increase economic growth and attract more tourists to the North.
The proposed eco-park in the Kivalliq Region will consist of a large reserve of wetlands, with walking trails and interpretive materials. It will educate visitors and residents about the land, wildlife, history, and traditions of Arviat and surrounding area. With this funding, a design will be developed that will include a budget and a formal concept for the park.