Sunday, May 27, 2012

Canada’s broken employment insurance policy


The latest federal government actions to continue Canada’s position as a global leader by amending its employment insurance policy has yet again received criticism from Canada’s socialist-in-chief.

But that's not surprising.

Perhaps Canada’s Opposition could start by basing their lines of attack off the concerns of real Canadians and not what’s trending in the Toronto Star.

Or maybe I’m just expecting too much.

Minister of Human Resources and Skills Development Diane Finley announced that improvements to the employment insurance program would ensure Canadians are better connected to jobs in their community at this “unprecedented skills shortage.” She later expanded to say these improvements would require claimants to travel up to one hour from their home to their job, and accept at least 70% of their previous salary if required.

But the legitimate critics of employment insurance have been saying the problem needs to be addressed for some time, just as the unsustainable old-age security needed to be addressed in the 1980’s and 1990’s.  The CD Howe Institute has been saying for some time that

The goals and intentions of the EI regime should be simplified to better address the needs
of Canada’s unemployed workers. Reforms are needed to better align the incentives of the
EI program with the national interests of a more dynamic, flexible and buoyant labour
market. Regionally based criteria for determining eligibility and the length of the benefit
period should be replaced by uniform, countrywide EI entrance requirements and benefit
entitlement periods. An improved screening mechanism would allow EI parameters to be
tightened as the economy recovers and loosened when it enters a downturn.

John Ivison said these reforms have exposed the “work shy” people in every province: those who purposely take jobs for part of the year – just enough to qualify for employment insurance – then take the rest of the year living off the taxpayer.

The Canadian Taxpayers’ Federation said these changes “should help push people off of a pogey lifestyle and into steadier jobs,” according to National Director Gregory Thomas.

Brian Lee Crowley, former Visiting Economist at Finance Canada and Managing Director of the Macdonald-Laurier Institute, recalled the “shameful damage” EI caused in his eastern Canadian home.  Crowley encountered entitled citizens demanding “make work” jobs outside of fishing season (paid for by the taxpayer).  As a business owner, he encountered people with the audacity to say they would only work if he agreed to lay them off once they gained enough hours to sit on EI.  Government, businesses, and citizens all became complicit in this system.

This is not to say everyone is cheating the system, just that there are cheats out there who know very well how to play the system for the maximum benefit and the least work.

But while the government is tightening the rules on employment insurance, I’m questioning why do we need employment insurance at all?

Employment insurance (previously unemployment insurance) was originally established during the Great Depression under Conservative prime minister R.B. Bennett.  Interestingly, the original program was ruled unconstitutional as the responsibility should have fallen to the provinces according to the Supreme Court.

The existence of the program at that time was obvious: 30% of the labour force was out of work, and 20% were depending on the government.  Wages fell alongside prices as people were desperate to make ends meet.

But the times have clearly changed.  The unemployment rate was eight percent in 2010, and currently sits at 7.3 percent with 58,000 more people working as of April 2012.

Today, employees contribute $1.71 for every $100 they make, and employers remit 1.4 times that amount.

This system prompted the National Post to remark that the system is a scam, since it’s not “insurance” and it’s not insuring against your “employment.”

For the average employee, who makes about $36,000 per year, that’s $615.  Not that it’s earth-shattering money, but it quickly adds up when the government is collecting that amount from millions of Canadians and reinvesting as it sees fit.

Why not give that money back to Canadians and let them save it for themselves?

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Canada’s disgrace: the need to assist persecuted Canadians

Since many of the left-wing media have now likened the admittance of Conrad Black on a one-year temporary visa to the opposition to allow convicted murder and terrorist Omar Khadr back into Canada, I figure I’ll play along in a follow-up to yesterday’s Canada’s Disgrace: the need to reject terrorists from our country.

The differences between the two men are vast, and it’s laughable that one would even attempt to posit the logic that if we oppose a terrorist from entering our country, how can we allow a “British criminal” (as Thomas Mulcair put it) back into Canada?

 

Yet that’s what most of the media is doing, so let’s play along to realize how ridiculous such an assertion really is.

 

Omar Khadr comes from the infamous Khadr crime family. Omar’s father, Ahmed, was Osama bin Laden’s chief financier, who used Canada’s free first-class health care and generous public to set up a front group to finance terrorism overseas.  Ahmed’s charity was created to “alleviate human suffering” but really the money was sent to Pakistan to finance terrorism, bombs, and destruction – and eventually the terrorist bombing on the Egyptian embassy in Pakistan in 1995.

 

But Ahmed’s legacy wasn’t enough for Omar.  Omar, who fully acknowledged he did not have to partake in the family crime business, wanted to become a bigger and better terrorist than his father.  He took specialized training classes and he happily smiled at cameras filming him make improvised explosive devices (IED’s).  Omar’s purpose in life was “to kill many Americans,” “wherever they could be found,” and his despicable wish tragically came true when he threw that grenade at Sgt. Speer’s squad.

 

And if that wasn’t enough, whenever Khadr was feeling down in his luxurious accommodations at Guantanamo Bay, he’d relive the tragic last minutes of Sgt. Speer’s life, and “it made him feel good.”

 

Khadr was convicted.  Of murder.  He is an unapologetic terrorist.

 

Now, to expose how ridiculous this comparison really is, let’s consider the life of The Right Honourable Lord Conrad Black of Crossharbour, PC, OC, KCSG, LL.L., M.A.

 

Black was born in Montreal in 1944 to a successful family. His family had founded or ran at one point large companies, such as Canadian Breweries Limited, Great-West Life Insurance, and the Daily Telegraph newspaper.

 

But while his family focused on athletics, Black decided to study wordplay.  Growing up he began investing and eventually obtained a Master’s degree from McGill and a law degree from Laval University (an LL.L., now known as a Bachelor of Civil Law or B.C.L.).

 

Black’s climb to success is readily available on the public record, so it needs not repeating much here.  Black became a successful investor and owned a number of newspapers.

 

Fast forward to 2007, and Black has just been convicted of several counts of fraud.

 

Except that those charges would eventually be overturned.

 

Black was also found guilty of obstructing justice for removing personal effects from his former employer’s office (ordered by the court), when it turned out that some of those papers were also under court order to not be removed.

 

The glaring incompatibility of this comparison should at this point be crystal clear.  A convicted, unapologetic terrorist, on the one hand, and a successful, wealthy Canadian, who at worst took personal documents he should not have.

 

By no means am I excusing Black for what he may or may not have done.  Black’s autobiography suggests it was a conspiracy of the American legal system, while the American legal system suggests Black was purposely hindering their investigation.  I suggest reality is probably somewhere in the middle, so I neither want to vindicate nor condemn Lord Black.

 

The results of this miscarriage of justice have been substantial: Black has sold several homes; his net work is substantially diminished; he’s lost every stake in the companies he built and championed; and his relationship with his children and wife has been significantly strained.

 

So when the NDP and the left-wing media stand up for convicted terrorist Omar Khadr while admonishing Conrad Black, you’ll know whose side they’re really on.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Conservative one-year anniversary a time for reflection and celebration

It was one year ago tomorrow that Prime Minister Stephen Harper led Canadians to elect a strong, stable, national, Conservative majority government!  Canadians, faced with the clear choice between a reckless coalition bent on high-taxes and killing jobs and a Conservative government focused on creating jobs and lowering taxes, overwhelmingly elected the Conservative government with a strong mandate to fulfill those promises.
 
What better way to celebrate than review the list of commitments the Conservatives promised in their 2011 platform, and how those commitments are progressing:
 
See this great resource list I compiled here.

We see the government has done an outstanding job, with 92% of promises already completed or in discussions to be completed.

This is a government that has overwhelmingly drafted its promises and stuck to them.  Congratulations, and happy anniversary!

Canada’s disgrace: the need to reject terrorists from our country


The life of Omar Khadr has been on near-constant public conscience ever since the fateful day when the fanatical terrorist threw a grenade at a U.S. army squad, killing Sgt. 1stClass Chris Speer.
But what’s really making news these days is the federal government’s decision that they will allow Omar Khadr back onto Canadian soil.  Some sources estimate he could be back in Canada by the end of May; the decision rests with Public Safety Minister Vic Toews.
As noted in Ezra Levant’s newly-released The Enemy Within: Terror, Lies, and the Whitewashing of Omar Khadr, most of the mainstream media has whitewashed the entire issue to turn convicted terrorist Khadr into this soft, gentle, innocent, child soldier.
But even the slightest glimpse at Khadr’s confession to the murder paints a completely different picture.  He said “the proudest moments of his life” were building and planting improvised explosive devices (IED’s) to cause pain, suffering, misery, and death.
Khadr also acknowledged he was completely free to leave the crime family business – but Omar wanted to be an even bigger, more successful terrorist than his father.  He took specialized training courses; he happily smiled at cameras filming him creating the next mechanism for destruction.
Omar admitted it was his objective “to kill many Americans,” “wherever they could be found,” and his despicable wish tragically came true when he threw that grenade at Sgt. Speer’s squad.
During his time at Guantanamo Bay he demanded olives and cheese at every meal, and later added fresh olive oil to his list of demands.  And whenever Omar was feeling down, he’d relive the tragic last minutes of Sgt. Speer’s life, and “it made him feel good.”
Omar is the son of Ahmed Khadr, one-time chief financier and terrorist for al Qaeda under Osama bin Laden, who considered Canada a “dirty swamp,” only using our great country for its free health care whenever the family needed some world-class surgery or medical assistance.
Ahmed also used our country to organize a front group to send “charitable” money from Canadians to be used by Osama bin Laden overseas.  The money, which Canadian donors were told was to “alleviate human suffering,” was used to finance terrorism, such as Ahmed Khadr’s bombing of the Egyptian embassy in Pakistan in 1995.
The Khadr’s are your textbook example of “Canadians of convenience:” they don’t care about Canada; they do not embrace Canadian values; and I doubt Ahmed’s money running and arms-dealing business in the Middle East brought anything back to Canada by means of taxes.  They lived abroad, and only returned when they needed first-class medical care or a “get out of jail free card” when captured for their illegal activities overseas.
To suggest Omar is deserving of Canadian rights suggests he’s fulfilled his responsibilities, which he clearly has not.
Levant’s book has sparked a Canadian movement to push back against the decision to repatriate the convicted murderer and terrorist.  Scarborough (where Khadr is from and where his family continues to live) resident Shobie Kapoor has created an online petition with almost 3000 signatures at the time of writing.  I encourage you to add your name at http://www.gopetition.com/petitions/stop-terrorist-omar-khadr-from-returning-to-canada.html There is also a petition with 471 signatures from November 2010, it too calling for Khadr to be barred from returning to Canada.
By comparison, only 88 signatures on a pro-Khadr petition call on the federal government to allow Khadr back into Canada. If that’s not representative democracy I don’t know what is.

Twitter also seems to have sparked @KeepKhadrOut, which has been providing information on the “real” Khadr for grounds to deny his re-entry into Canada.
Canadians have thus made it very clear convicted terrorists are not welcome in this country.  Would you feel comfortable shopping with him?  Taking a flight?  Allowing your kids near him?
Admittedly, then, the question becomes if not Canada, then where?
The response to this question has the opportunity to shift Canada’s foreign affairs and public safety policies from the Liberal immigration days of “sure, we’ll take anyone.” Refusing to accept a convicted terrorist into our borders could be just another step towards improving immigration reforms and ensuring the Canadian public can rely on the federal government for safety measures.
Where should Khadr reside? Not here.
Write to Public Safety Minister Vic Toews at Vic.Toews@parl.gc.ca; call his office at (613) 992-3128; or write to him at The Hon. Vic Toews, MP, House of Commons, Ottawa, ON, K1A 0A6 (no postage required).