Friday, 30 October 2015

Affirmative Action is Nothing but Negative

A couple of months ago, I had a conversation with a work colleague of mine, who had just obtained her credentials as an Ontario Certified Teacher.  She told me that she was afraid of being passed over for job opportunities as she tries to start her teaching career simply because she is a white female.  I was reminded of this conversation by an article I read a few days ago about a man who claims to have been passed over for promotion at Revenue Canada because he is white (see: White worker says Canada Revenue Agency discriminated against him).  My co-worker's concerns about her job prospects and the allegations mentioned in the article that I have cited both have to do with the same theme: affirmative action.

To make a long story short, affirmative action basically means favoring people from disadvantaged groups, such as visible minorities, women and people with disabilities, when determining, for example, who to hire for a job or who to admit into an institution, like a university or college.  It's a longstanding practice that its proponents say helps people from disadvantaged groups access employment and other opportunities that they would otherwise be denied.  Personally, I find the term affirmative action to be a very ironic name for a practice that I consider to be nothing but negative.

I am actually a member of what affirmative action supporters would call a disadvantaged group, namely people with disabilities.  I won't go into specifics about my disabilities, but I will say that if someone told me that I should get a job simply because I have a disability and not because I'm qualified, I would be insulted.  From my perspective, it's like someone telling me that because I have a disability, I can't get a job based on my own merits.  In fact, I would go further with this analogy and say that affirmative action is an insult to all disadvantaged groups, because those who support and implement the practice are basically telling anyone who is a woman, a visible minority, a disabled person, etc., that they can't get opportunities on their own merits, but only by denying those opportunities to others who are not considered part of any disadvantaged sector of society.  Maybe it's just me, but I feel like the folks who support affirmative action are saying that two wrongs make a right.  In other words, we must fight discrimination against women by discriminating against men. We must fight discrimination against visible minorities by discriminating against white people.  We must fight discrimination against gays by discriminating against heterosexuals.  I don't know about you, but I was brought up to believe that all forms of discrimination are bad.

I am a firm believer in doing whatever we can to help people from disadvantaged groups meet their full potential, but this should not include affirmative action.  Rather, we should give disadvantaged people the help and support that will enable them to get where they want to get by themselves. History shows that individuals and groups of people who we would consider disadvantaged or oppressed went on to achieve great things, not because of some affirmative action policy, but because they rose above the disadvantages and prejudices that plagued them, either by working harder than those who were not disadvantaged, or by finding ways to work around whatever disadvantage or discrimination that they were victims of.  My favorite historic example of this is my own people, the Jews.

Antisemitism is one of the oldest prejudices in human history.  Indeed, ever since the Jewish people came into existence, they have been the victims of discrimination and persecution right up until today.  Nevertheless, the Jews have not fought against the relentless hatred and discrimination that they have constantly suffered from by demanding affirmative action policies.  To the best of my knowledge, no Jews living in a part of the world in which they comprise a minority population have ever demanded that they be given jobs or other opportunities simply because they are Jews.  Instead, Jews worked harder than non-Jews had to in order to achieve what they desired, or they found innovative ways to get around the roadblocks that antisemites put in their way.  So for example, if universities put limits on how many Jews they would admit, Jewish students worked harder than their non-Jewish peers so that universities would accept them.  When hospitals in Toronto would not employ Jewish medical care providers, the Jews of the city created their own hospital, Mt. Sinai.  In fact, I would say that the ability of the Jewish people to combat discrimination through hard work and innovation is one of the reasons why they have historically been disproportionate contributors to human civilization.

But inasmuch as the Jews have a history of being victimized for thousands of years, most proponents of affirmative action would probably not consider them a disadvantaged group.  Ironic, isn't it? Actually, I think it's safe to say that many of the supporters of affirmative action are also the same people who say that Israel is an apartheid state and that Jews are responsible for the oppression and mistreatment of other disadvantaged people.



Tuesday, 20 October 2015

A Trudeau Majority: Welcome to My Nightmare...And Canada's

Yesterday, Canadians made a terrible choice.  They elected Justin Trudeau as their next Prime Minister.  Yes, I understand that many of my fellow Canadian voters were strongly motivated by their hatred of Stephen Harper and a strong desire for change, but that's no excuse for electing a man whom I warned would run the country into the ground (see: Canada Votes on Monday.  The Worst Case Scenario?  A Trudeau Majority).  Then again, maybe I'm being too hard on Canada's electorate. After all, it's not the first time the Liberal Party has fooled people into voting for them by hijacking another party's platform and presenting it as their own.  Yesterday's election was just another example of this Liberal trickery.  The Liberals simply stole the NDP's platform, forcing the latter to move closer to the center to differentiate itself from the Grits, thereby alienating much of its traditional left wing base and setting themselves up for a crushing defeat on election day.

Still, most of the people who voted in yesterday's election actually didn't fall for the Liberals' bag of tricks. In fact, the Grits managed to garner just under forty percent of the popular vote.  But of course, under our ridiculously primitive and undemocratic first-past-the-post, winner-take-all electoral system, Trudeau's Liberals managed to win enough ridings to control most of the seats in Parliament and receive 100% of the power for the next four years.  Some democracy, eh?  And for those of you who were hoping for electoral reform after this election.  Forget about it!  Now that the Liberals know they can once again get a majority under the current system, they won't even think of changing it.

So what happens now?  Well, normally once the Liberals have won an election by swinging left, they almost immediately swing back to the right.  I still remember a former leader of the federal NDP, Alexa McDonough, famously saying back in the 1990s that the Liberals campaign like New Democrats, but govern like Conservatives.  My sense, however, is that this tradition of campaigning from the left and governing from the right will not continue under Justin Trudeau.  Nope.  He and the Liberals are going to destroy Canada's finances the same way the Liberals destroyed Ontario's (see: What Would Justin Trudeau as Prime Minister Mean for Canada? Look at Ontario to Find Out).  God Help Us!  And if that isn't enough, he's going to re-open the Pandora's Box that we call multiculturalism and take it where it's never been before, to the point where Canada's values as a modern democracy will cease to exist.

Now of course, I've already mentioned much of what I think Justin Trudeau will do to this country in previous blog posts, so I don't want to repeat myself too much.  I did not, however, mention that in addition to wrecking Canada's finances and gutting Canada's values, Justin Trudeau will also make a mockery of Canada on the world stage.  Indeed, when Trudeau's victory was announced, some of the first people to celebrate were probably the terrorists of the Islamic State, since our soon-to-be prime minister promised to remove Canadian forces from the fight against them.  And do you know who else is celebrating?  Dictators, like Russia's Vladimir Putin, who is bound to look at our new prime minister and laugh.  For those of you who thought Rob Ford was embarrassing, you ain't seen nothing yet!


Friday, 16 October 2015

Canada Votes on Monday. The Worst Case Scenario? A Trudeau Majority

Just one weekend to go before Canadians cast their ballots in the federal election on Monday.  At the start of the election campaign, the opinion polls had the NDP out in front with the Conservatives in second and the Liberals trailing in third.  Fast forward to the climax of the campaign and now most of the polls put the NDP in third place, the Tories in second and the Liberals in first place.  In fact, according to some polls, the Liberals are closing in on "majority" territory.  In other words, they may win enough seats in the election to form a "majority" government.  I use quotation marks because as Canadian voters should all know, the word majority in the context of Canadian federal and provincial elections means that one party wins most of the ridings up for grabs, but almost never commands a majority of the popular vote thanks to our first-past-the-post system election system that I hate so much.  If Justin Trudeau's Liberals do manage to win enough ridings to form a majority goverment, you can pretty much kiss our great country goodbye.

I've already talked about what kind of disaster awaits Canada if Justin Trudeau becomes prime minister and destroys the country's finances the same way his best friend on the campaign trail, Premier Kathleen Wynne, has destroyed Ontario's (see: What Would Justin Trudeau as Prime Minister Mean for Canada?  Look at Ontario to Find Out).  Unfortunately, however, there's a lot more than Canada's finances that will be under threat should Trudeau and the Grits form a "majority" government.  Canadian values will also be at great risk.  Whereas the late Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau began the destruction of Canada and its values by imposing his ideology of multiculturalism on the country, Justin is on course to finish what his father started by taking multiculturalism farther than ever before and into extremely dangerous territory.  A woman covering her face with a niqab during a citizenship ceremony will be the least of our worries.  Before you know it, Trudeau will have polygamy legalized.  He'll argue that we can't avoid it because we're a multicultural country and we cannot discriminate against the values and practices of other cultures, no matter how barbaric and discriminatory those values and practices may be and no matter how much they contradict Canada's values as a democracy that respects fundamental human rights.  And Trudeau probably won't stop at polygamy either.  Female genital mutilation anyone?  Before you know it, Canada's days as a modern democracy will be coming to an end and people will be scrambling to get out of the country the same way so many immigrants and refugees are scrambling to get into it today.

Indeed, immigration will be one of Justin Trudeau's most potent weapons as he seeks to mold Canada in his image.  Since the days of Pierre Trudeau, no party has used immigration and immigrants themselves more cynically than the Liberal Party.  The Liberals' strategy has always been to bring in anyone who they think will vote Liberal upon becoming Canadian citizens, regardless of whether or not they share Canada's values and regardless of their ability to contribute to the country economically.  So I think we know what kind of immigration policy we're in for if Justin Trudeau becomes prime minister; the kind where potential newcomers to this country are not screened for security concerns; the kind where would-be citizens do not have to learn about Canadian values like freedom, democracy and equality, let alone promise to uphold those values; basically the kind of policy that devalues Canadian citizenship to the point where it won't matter whether someone covers their face when taking their oath of citizenship, because under Justin Trudeau and the Liberals, that oath won't mean anything anymore.

To sum it all up, Canada under Justin Trudeau and the Liberals won't be Canada anymore.  At least, not the Canada that we know.  So what will it be like?  Maybe it will be like communist China, since Trudeau has previously expressed his fondness for that country's dictatorship.  Or perhaps it will resemble Saudi Arabia, because we all know how Trudeau has no trouble tolerating and even embracing barbaric, anti-Western beliefs and practices so long as he can win votes.  Whatever Canada becomes under Justin Trudeau, it's probably not the kind of country that either I or many other Canadians would want to live in.  Hence, if Trudeau does become Prime Minister of Canada with a "majority" government, we may want to start packing our bags.

I understand that the prevailing mood in Canada now is one in which there is a strong desire for change.  But if change is what you're looking for, I strongly suggest that you park your vote somewhere other than in Justin Trudeau's lot.  Vote NDP, vote Green, vote for some fringe party that doesn't have a hope in hell of winning any seats, but don't vote for Trudeau's Grits, because you risk destroying this great country we call Canada.

Best Case Scenario: A Minority Government

My belief is that NO party, especially Trudeau's Liberals, deserves a so-called majority government unless they are able to garner a majority of the popular vote.  Furthermore, I would contend that if any party manages to win enough seats to form a "majority" government on October 19th, those of us who want to see elections where every vote counts can just forget about it. The Conservatives are dead set against any electoral reform, and while both the Liberals and the NDP have pledged changes to the way we elect our federal politicians, precedent tells us that whenever either party holds power, whether at the provincial level or both the provincial and federal level in the case of the Liberals, neither of them manage to enact changes that would result in fairer electoral representation for Canadians.  


Sunday, 11 October 2015

A Message of Hope for the Middle East

One could easily argue that prospects for peace and prosperity in the Middle East have never looked dimmer.  Indeed, the last few years have been extremely tough for the region, to say the least.  From the civil wars in Syria and Yemen to the brutality of the Islamic State, not to mention the ongoing Israeli-Palestinian conflict, there just doesn't seem to be any end to the bloodshed and misery.  It's no wonder then that people both inside and outside the Middle East are pessimistic about the region's future.  I too believe that the situation in the Middle East will worsen.  Yes, I'm afraid that the region will see a lot more blood spilled and a lot more ammunition spent, but I also believe that eventually, a new Middle East will be born - a Middle East in which people prosper and live in peace and tranquility with each other.  Why do I believe this?  Because I know my history.  I know, for example, that there was a time when many if not most people in Europe never believed that the bloody conflicts that had raged throughout the continent would come to an end.

If you have at least some general knowledge of European history, you will know that conflicts between the various peoples of the continent have lasted far longer then, say, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.  The peoples of Great Britain and France, for instance, fought each other for a millennium. In fact, the two countries only achieved a genuine peace in the early years of the twentieth century. France and Germany too were once the bitterest of enemies.  But fast forward to the late 20th century and the two countries forged an alliance that has been a key impetus for the creation and expansion of the European Union - a union that was prophesied by Winston Churchill just after World War II. Indeed, it is remarkable that immediately after the worst conflict in European and world history, the British Prime Minister predicted that there would be what he called a "United States of Europe."  Yet less than half a century later, the European Union was formed out of nation-states that just a few decades earlier were at each others' throats.  This union now spans most of continent's nation-states, including some that just one generation ago were part of the Soviet-led Warsaw Pact, meant to wage war against the nation-states of western Europe.  Now of course, modern Europe has not been entirely free of violent conflict.  As many people reading this might know, the last decade of the 20th century saw the outbreak of wars in the Balkans.  Particularly brutal was the war in Bosnia and Herzegovina that saw atrocities reminiscent of those committed by the Nazis in World War II.  But what a difference less than thirty years makes, because now most of the states involved in the Balkan conflicts of the 1990s are well on their way to EU membership.  Two of them, Slovenia and Croatia, are part of the bloc already.  The point I'm trying to make is that if in just a few decades, the countries of Europe were able to go from bitter enemies to strong allies in a politically and economically integrated Europe, so too can the countries and peoples of the Middle East go from hated adversaries to solid partners in a new, peaceful and prosperous region.

As I've said before, I believe that there is still much more violence and bloodshed to come in the Middle East.  Things in the region will get a lot worse before they get better, just as they did in Europe.  But in the end, the peoples of the Middle East will join together to create a region that is free of war, free of violent conflict and free of the kind of despair that has befallen the region for so many years.