Harm reduction
3 min

Next on the chopping block: affirmative action

In case you missed it, amidst the continuing drama of the census meltdown, Jason Kenney quietly announced that he is going to “review” the affirmative action hiring policies of the government. You know, what has actually enabled women and minorities to get a fair shake at positions in what used to be an overwhelmingly white and male civil service? A policy that has proven to be successful with women entering into the senior ranks? Yeah, that policy.

It’s not that surprising, and the writing was on the wall. Consider the odious editorial that The Party’s official media organ released regarding the appointment of David Johnston as the next governor general, thanking Stephen Harper for choosing a white man. No, seriously. In fact, that very same editorial accused the federal civil service of taking “affirmative action to the extreme.” And days later, Kenney comes out with this announcement. Coincidence? I doubt it.

While this is no doubt more red meat for the base – or the supposed populist base that the Conservatives are now pandering to, full speed ahead – it sends off more worrying signals about the kind of country they’re trying to reshape Canada into. If the minister in charge of multiculturalism says that the civil service doesn’t need to worry about being representative, then that should be a red flag. Just like a government that doesn’t want to have accurate data on its demographic make-up. Could it be that they don’t care what that make-up is, so long as straight white men remain in charge and any other minorities can be undercut? Maybe. But a definite pattern is emerging, and we should all beware of what it portends.

Speaking of the census, Tony Clement had his ass handed to him in an interview by the CBC’s Rosemary Barton, but he still refuses to back down, no matter how many holes are punched in his arguments, or how many times his false logic is pointed out. (Barton also took down Pierre Poilievre in the following segment with the kind of grace and panache I haven’t seen since Don Newman left the airwaves. All hail Rosemary!) Both of them brought up the fact that some Scandinavian countries don’t have a census – except that they engage in more invasive data mining to get the information they need – nor is it what this government is proposing, so for them to bring it up is yet another red herring. (And thanks again to Barton for calling them on that too.)

And Statistics Canada? Just a year ago, it was the toast of the world for its privacy and independence. Now its credibility is being tarnished, and even the Bank of Canada is looking into the impact that the loss of this data will have. The Bank of Canada – our saviours during the financial meltdown (if many of the financial punditry are to be believed). Surely this would be enough to make Clement change his mind! (That would, of course, imply that Clement actually made decisions and not the PMO, which we all know isn’t the case.)

While visiting Shawinigan, Michael Ignatieff got a lesson in the “Shawinigan handshake” from the master, former Prime Minister Jean Chrétien.

Helena Guergis says she wants to speak to the prime minister now that the RCMP has cleared her name. Yeah – good luck with that one.

Congratulations, Canada – our HIV infection rate is back up to 1982 levels! And no, that isn’t something to celebrate. Thanks be to this government for eliminating the harm reduction programs that were actually working.

PS – Yesterday The Globe and Mail ran an editorial from respected lesbian law professor Nicole LaViolette, which takes up Jason Kenney’s challenge to the queer community to sponsor more queer refugees. My story about the community’s challenges in being able to do just that is up on xtra.ca here.
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