Harper’s Leadership: Not so secure, not so pragmatic, not so proven

Stephen Harper.

The strategic, pragmatic, secure, proven leader.

Adjectives, repeated by journalists, conservative politicians and supporters during his nine-year tenure as Canada’s prime minister.

Adjectives, some of which, aptly describe his Machiavellian gamesmanship in the art and science of politics.

Adjectives and a positioning, in contrast to his administration and its implications for Canada.



From the time he prorogued Parliament, Act I, Stephen Harper pursued a high risk, low reward economic plan, focused on one industry.

One industry in need of a low-cost transportation method to move landlocked oilsands bitumen to refineries in the United States and markets overseas.

Calling himself a friend to this one industry, Harper proceeded to expunge environmental and waterways regulations and standards. In cahoots with Canada’s security agencies, the federal government spied on any parties objecting to oilsands expansion, and obstructed any and all attempts at legitimate carbon pricing.

He also used hundreds of millions of public dollars to advertise the virtues of Alberta’s oilsands in North America and Europe. Under cover. At least until recently.

Continue reading Harper’s Leadership: Not so secure, not so pragmatic, not so proven


Mr. Harper – Canadian Youth Won’t Take No For an Answer

Further to the last post on our federal government and pipeline companies’ inability to adjust to a paradigm shift in the energy development arena, the Canadian Youth delegation, along with 60 signatories such as Greenpeace Canada, Canadian Labour Congress and Sierra Club Canada, wrote an open letter to the Harper government demanding action on climate change.

The letter is found on one of the signatory’s, Rabble.ca, web site, and can be read by clicking on the link above.

The gauntlet has been thrown, months from the next federal election. The door is also open for Mr. Mulcair or Mr. Trudeau to take a strong stance with Canadian youth, First Nations and all concerned Canadians about climate change and Canada’s detrimental stance.

The following are a couple of exerts from the open letter :

“We, the Canadian Youth Delegation, stand alongside the millions of young people worldwide who refuse to inherit a planet in crisis. We stand beside Indigenous peoples, front-line communities, people of colour and low income populations who are living the frightening realities and injustices of climate change, and who will continue to be disproportionately impacted in the absence of sufficient action.”

“You have the opportunity to be a leader in creating a just transition to a clean energy future, but you consistently fail to rise to the challenge. By now, any excuses for delay have long expired, yet we anticipate with heavy hearts that you will continue to stall negotiations at COP 20 and promote carbon-intensive projects at home. If this is the case, we will continue to challenge the ongoing development of the single most destructive development anywhere on Earth, and we will not give up until you acknowledge and take urgent and ambitious action to demonstrate that our future is more important to you than the money in your pockets, the oil on your hands, or the power you hold. To us, our future is everything, and we will do all that we can to protect it. Let it echo through the halls and boardrooms of every legislating body and corporate headquarters in this country: we deserve better.”

Escalator Allows Canadian Business to Reverse a Disturbing Canadian Economic Trend, Youth Unemployment

An astounding ten percent of youth, aged 15-24 in the greater Toronto-Hamilton area are not in education, employment or training.

That’s 83,000 possibly adrift youth with little understanding of what possibilities await them, where best to begin that search, facing barriers associated with racism, poverty, recent immigration, and lack of familial networks or job market know-how others take for granted.

Toronto as a whole has a youth unemployment rate over 20%. The numbers erode further as you factor in race: 28% for black youth, 25% for Aboriginal youth, 24% for South Asians and Chinese youth, and 27% for Korean youth. (Source: Statistics Canada, 2011 National Household Survey)

As of July 14, 2014, the national youth uneployment rate is 13.2%. How does that compare to some of our trading partners? While Germany at 7.8% and Japan at 7.2% fare much better, the US at 13.6%, France at 22.4% and UK at 17.7%, are staring at a lost generation of students and college or university graduates with stifling student debt and little hope in putting to practice their areas of study.

Facing pressure from 1) business segment that abdicated its responsibilities in training and development in the name of cost savings and a just-in-time hire expected to ready-set-go-on-the-first-day, and 2) provinces’ alarm at the rate of unpaid internships for youth seeking practical experience, Ottawa responded with a $40 million internship program earlier this year.

The national internship program for 3000 post-secondary students interested in pursuing a career in STEM and skilled trades, provides for fully-paid internships for a six to twelve month period. The government is counting on business stepping forward and hiring these students once their paid-for training and learning is complete.

Continue reading Escalator Allows Canadian Business to Reverse a Disturbing Canadian Economic Trend, Youth Unemployment

Temporary Foreign Worker Program Can Be Costlier for Small, Independent Business

The Canadian temporary foreign workers’ program was recently in the news again.

As you may recall, the Conservative government moved to make changes earlier this year in hopes of reducing the avalanche of applications and temporary workers in Canada. But as Carol Goar pointed out in an article in the Toronto Star, the numbers accepted into Canada between January to June 2013 actually increased by 5%, when compared to the same period in 2012.

While some of these arrivals may include those applications submitted prior to the change but fulfilled this calendar year or represent an outlier in a transitional period, Dan Kelly, President and CEO of the Canadian Federation of Independent Business continues to lobby against tighter regulations, as they may negatively impact his membership base.

Mr. Kelly offers sober thought for those SMBs operating within the western provinces’ robust economy. Faced with low unemployment and open positions unfilled for a myriad of reasons, wages have been driven higher by the oil and gas industry, and the businesses servicing them. In being forced to pay at times exorbitant wages to attract Canadians to low and high skill jobs in our western provinces, the labour component of a company’s balance sheet challenges the bottom line of any business, let alone small and independent business.

Temporary foreign workers, and the previous allowance for a 15% discount on wages, helped fill these available jobs, while propping up profits.

Continue reading Temporary Foreign Worker Program Can Be Costlier for Small, Independent Business

Transit, Premier Wynne’s Hot Potato

Every political figure relishes a defining issue. One that affords them an opportunity to demonstrate leadership in creating and implementing a transformative policy or impression that ripples across a populace or generation.

For Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne, transit might be that policy. Anyone that drives anywhere within the GTA-Hamilton corridor is familiar with the crawl. Business claims congestion costs local industries $6 billion annually. Yet all politicians of every stripe at every level for years chose to turn a deaf ear, playing their political capital elsewhere.

Not Premier Wynne. No, she’s contemplating taking the transit issue all the way to an election. Without any support from either opposing party, nor the federal government. And to date, the majority of the voters.

And how will this revenue-challenged province pay for all these transit projects. Earlier this week, Metrolinx released its recommendations as to which revenue tools it suggests Premier Wynne incorporate:

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Outsourced Manufacturing and Corporate Social Responsibility

Corporate social responsibility within the framework of outsourced manufacturing of any finished goods is possible.

Yes, recent history shines a damning light on the desperate plight of the world’d poorest who provide cheap labour for factories producing many of our branded consumer goods: El Salvador and the Kathie-Lee Gifford clothing line during the 1980’s provided our first peek; the sweater factory collapse in Dhaka in 2005; the Foxconn employee suicides protesting working conditions in 2010, & their association with Apple; the Pakistan factory fire in 2012 and more recently, the Bangladesh Rana Plaza facility collapse that implicated Canada’s Loblaws/Joe Fresh brand.

But the alarm, shock and call-to-action erupting from consumers may provide sufficient impetus for citizens to become informed as to the true human and ecological cost of cheap apparel and goods, and for brands to assume a leadership role in improving working and living conditions within those plants, rather than running away, like Disney did with its recent announcement.
Sunbeams Shifts Manufacturing to Asia:

Around the time I headed up Sunbeam’s Appliance business in Canada in the early 2000’s, the consumer goods industry underwent a seismic shift. The market transitioned from a brand-driven delivery of goods that served consumers needs and wants, to a marketplace model where the national or global retailers were in the driver’s seat.

Continue reading Outsourced Manufacturing and Corporate Social Responsibility