Archive for the ‘ New Brunswick ’ Category

Once again the Cons have failed to keep a promise. Once again the Cons have asked for a report and then turfed it.

Once again the students in New Brunswick suffer.

We have an issue in this province with not providing half decent second language education and it is not getting any better.

The students of this province need to go to school and expect that the education department has been given the mandate to provide them with the best possible education and as has happened far to often and with far to much regularity over many Con and Liberal governments the students in this province are given a half assed attempt at second language education and then blamed when they don’t meet the qualifications for bilingualism.

It is my personal opinion that we need to dramatically overhaul not only our bilingualism requirements but also our second language education.

In New Brunswick, a province where we claim to be officially bilingual, 56.3% of our province (over half) only speak English, 10.2% of our province only speak French and only 1/3 of our province actually are bilingual.  By extrapolation from population data it can be seen that our bilingual population is spread between the two linguistic communities like this. Approx. 11 percent of our populations is English first bilingual and 22 percent of our population is French first bilingual.

When you take those figures into account it shows that we have a long way to go before we actually become the bilingual province we claim to be and this is not helped when we fail to provide quality second language education.

The government requires many of our new job postings to be bilingual and this means that 33% of our population is eligible for a government job much of it based largely on their birth. That is unacceptable as it creates division within the communities.

Our province started with a strong anti French bias in our hiring and the process of Official Bilingualism was supposed to end that bias. What it has done instead was create an almost reverse discrimination process where it is far easier to get government work if you are French largely because a more significant portion of the French population is bilingual. This is a failure of our education system that needs to be corrected.

It is my personal belief that we need to work to end the constant conflict between the two linguistic groups in this province, the reality is that because our education department so dramatically fails our students the only recourse is to make sure that we divide our government jobs fairly between the two linguistic groups in a manner that is in line with the regional demographic of the two linguistic groups.

Basically province wide our government jobs should be split proportionally between the two groups and each region the division of labour should mimic the local demographics.

This allows for complete fairness and reduces friction between the communities while at the same time allowing the education department the time they require to get the education portion correct.

The best way to do this is not to automatically fire a bunch of people to make the numbers instantly match the demographics. It is instead to start all new hires as a demographic split (once all laid off employees are back in their jobs)

We need to work to create a fair and equal province and we will not do it by constantly pitting one group against another.

We make requirements for government jobs that people need to be bilingual but at the same time we

My understanding has always been that it was against the law, and in violation of the elections act, to deny someone employment or to fire someone or otherwise negatively influence their employment due to political affiliation or political positions.

That is the law.

The fact of the matter is that most people who are involved in politics can tell you that in one form or another everyone involved deals with this on a regular basis.

Companies regularly refuse to hire people because of their political connections, many of them routinely suffer work “slowdowns” because of their political connections and while much of it is behind closed doors and only understood to happen, Some of it is upfront and blatant.

Take for example the case of Daniel Bourgeois who was blocked from at least one job because he was a Councillor in Moncton and was denied a letter of recommendation because of his positions on another issue.

Let’s look at David Alward, he bluntly stated that they would not be hiring contractors who were critical his Conservative government, meaning that all those who were not Pro Alward conservatives would not be eligible for contracts.

Let’s look at the Shawn Graham Liberals who turfed a caucus member for daring to suggest that the public should have a say on a contentious policy.

Again at the Alward Conservatives who turfed a caucus member with extensive years in health care for daring to question the value of a dual health care system

And let’s not forget the Federal NDP who sanctions several caucus members who actually had the gall to actually support the wishes of their constituents by voting in favor of eliminating the federal long gun registry.

Yes it appears at all levels of government. It happens to those who lose their seats in an election, it happens to those at the municipal level who often have to work another job because the compensation is not sufficient on its own. It even happens to those who win elections when their party leader decides that he does not like what was said (or done)

I think it is time that the various Election agencies in Canada start to take a close look at this type of behavior and start to send an extremely strong message that this type of behavior will no longer be tolerated in this country.

Last night we learned that a city Councillor Daniel Bourgeois is stepping down because his outspoken political views on certain things in this city has negatively affected his ability to find outside employment.

I wish I could say I was surprised, or that I could say he was imagining things. Unfortunately I am well familiar with the fact that having a political viewpoint does affect your earning potential. I personally am familiar with over 60,000 in personal salary that I have lost to date due to suffering job cuts due solely to the political party I ran for in an election. I am also fully aware of at least one job opportunity which I was denied solely because of my outspoken positions, during and since the last municipal election.

My father has often quoted that “There is no place in politics for an honest man” and while I totally disagree with him and believe that we need more honest people getting involved in politics, not less, I also understand that it is things like this that make people believe that the honest man is doomed to fail in politics.

The fact of the matter is that the one level of politics that has absolutely no room for a person’s political beliefs affecting their opportunities for employment is Municipal politics. The reason for this is that Municipal politicians are paid so poorly for the work they do, that they need to in most cases have outside employment to be able to continue to serve in their position and politicians (and aspiring politicians) need to be able to speak their mind without fear of loss of income or employment.

All in all this is a sad day for politics in this city, when a man has to step down, Not because he did something wrong, but because in standing up for his beliefs other people have felt that they had the right to punish him for his political position.

The worst part about this is that while denying a person employment, or even penalizing a person at their current position, because of the political position is completely against the law, it is still common practice and very difficult to prove because those involved in this type of behaviour are very careful to always cover their butts and make sure that there is always something else they can point to as the real reason (even when every sane person in the world knows completely different)

We need better protection for all of our politicians when it comes to this type of behaviour and we also need to make sure that the penalties for even the appearance of impropriety in hiring practices regarding this type of action is soundly punished in such a manner as to make sure that it never happens again.

No politician should ever be penalized for speaking his mind, no matter whether that politician is right, wrong or even just holds an opposing view to ours.

I have long held the opinion for that the union is being screwed over in the present Moncton Transit dispute and I have also long been accused of my position being based solely on the fact that my father is a driver.

After many such accusations I thought it would perhaps be interesting to put a lot of these accusations to rest.

Most of you will not understand the long standing ongoing disagreements that have existed between my father and myself over my politics, and in all honesty the municipal election was the first time to the best of my knowledge that my father has actually considered voting for me. His vote was not because he managed to convince me to follow his thought process but instead that for once we found an issue that we agreed on politically (an extremely rare event, just ask my mother)

In fact to understand how willing my father is to let his differences in opinion from mine be known, you only have to look at my previous blog post, where he clearly questions my position that both sides should put the buses back on the road and hammer out a deal without the lockout or a strike affecting citizens to create a distraction and inconvenience the public

To understand the significance of my decision to support the drivers for the most part in this dispute you must understand a couple of things. The first is that as a general rule I am not a union supporter, in fact I find they are over the top.

The second thing that needs to be understood is that I have an IQ that generally tests between 130 and 143. For simplicity sake I generally accept the 130 as the more accurate of the two numbers, however that number alone is sufficient to put me in the top 2% this is something I have always been basically aware of since high school and something that for the most part I tend not to be over concerned with this except when people ignore my thoughts in favour of allowing emotions to get in the way of facts.

To get to my position I looked closely at the situation as it was playing out, I watched the actions of both sides as well as looked at as much detail as I could gather on both sides and realized that it was quite clear right from the start that someone was out to screw over the union, whether it was city council, city staff, the negotiator or someone else entirely I have not been able to determine simply because I am missing one or two facts. But to me the fact that it is the intent is completely clear.

I am giving up two positions that I want simply by the fact that I am holding this opinion.

I have applied for a position as a driver and I have indicated in the past (including to some members of council) that I want the position of GM when John Allain retires (supposedly at some point this year).

Because of my positions and how strong I support the Union and given that both of these positions are filled through HR for the city, the chances of me getting either of these positions have been directly affected by my position.

It is highly unlikely that I will even be considered for either of these spots given my position, and the reality is that it has likely completely eliminated me from contention for either position.

However I have taken this position knowing full well what the consequences of my actions will be and accepting them willingly simply because to me the overall point is black and white. The city has no interest in settling with the union unless it is at a significant loss to the drivers.

I will not say the drivers are perfect, they have made some mistakes during these negotiations, and they have not bent in their demands anymore then the city has. However of the two sets of demands I can see no point at which the city has offered a deal that is closer to the center instead they have maintained the same position even though they have consistently packaged it as a new deal.

Here are some facts that seem to get overlooked often.

  1. The original handshake deal would cost the public no more then they are paying now (this is something I have repeatedly pointed out that the mayor said when the deal was vetoed, often saying it in his presence and not once has he attempted to tell me, or anyone else, that I was wrong.
  2. The latest offer by the union would have cost the city half a million dollars a year less then the city was previously paying (a fact repeatedly stated by the union and not once denied by the council or the mayor)
  3. The union has been under a lockout position for so long that it will be impossible for them to make up the lost income over the length of the contract meaning that this is not an issue of money but of principle.

After 2 years of talks and the longest work disruption in Canadian transit history, the ATU chose to pull the offered concession off the table recently.

Now to be fair prior to this there was a “handshake deal” that was subsequently voted down by council and an “offer” that was withdrawn by the council as well. In fact at one point the council was offering 3.5% increases per year while recent discussions have all revolved around 2.5% or less.

The real truth in this tale is that it should come as no surprise that the union did pull the concessions offered. But even farther then that in my mind it is a great thing.

Over recent months, even preceding the lockout, the talks have been getting increasingly contentious and with the lockout, they are getting even more contentious and even citizens are getting involved (on both sides and even neutrally).

I believe the proof that shows how far we have fallen was the fact that for the past three council sessions there has been a police presence just outside council chambers and that last council session they were even inside to escort a union leader and a disabled presenter from the chambers. While they were told by the mayor not to remove them, and it appears that they may not have. The fact that they were even inside the council chambers (or that it was believed they might be needed) shows just how contentious this issue has become.

This means that in my mind there needs to be a complete change in direction in these talks.

  1. Buses need to be returned to the roads with a guarantee that by both the union and the city that they will not be removed again before the end of the next contract.
  2.  Both sides need to take a 2 month breather to allow tempers to cool.
  3. Start the discussion fresh with no use of prior discussions as starting points.
  4. Look at other contracts signed by the city, what cost savings per employee was gained by those contracts. This is the accepted cost savings per employee that can reasonably be expected from ATU.
  5. After the 2 month breather/cooling off period negotiate at minimum once per week and preferably at least 2 days per week.

We have no choice but to start over as it has become quite clear that the union and the city are nowhere near the same page.

We need to be reasonable and have serious intent to settle and that can only be done if there is not the threat of the passengers stranded to interfere with the discussions.

The present course by both the union and the city are of no value to the city or the citizens who live here and the fact that we as a city have no transit is going to rapidly turn this city into the butt of everyone else’s joke. We can do better than what we have seen and it is high time that we start to demonstrate that.