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Foreign worker fairness
Re Ottawa Vows To Give Watchdog More Power To Probe Immigration Consultants (April 9): Pleased as I am to see the Immigration Minister promising to crack down on the exploitation of foreign workers by consultants and recruiters, I want to ask the minister: Why, once again, did it take The Globe and Mail’s outing of abuse for the government to act?
Considering the limited scope of The Globe’s investigation, the 2,600 cases highlighted may well represent only a fraction of those affected. So grateful as I am for The Globe’s dedication to investigative journalism, where are our politicians – on both sides of the aisle – on bringing these injustices to light?
Sandra Anderson, Halifax
I read about the appalling exploitation of foreign workers, brought into Canada on false pretenses and used in shocking, slave-like labour. There is a more plentiful cohort of people who come into Canada legally through this process, and who work under conditions that are identical to Canadian workers.
I own a small commercial gardening business, now 20 years old. Right now, I have six well-paid, hard-working employees: Not one was born here. In recent recruitment efforts, I received zero applications for employment from anyone in Canada (five from South Africa!). This is because Canadians don’t want to work outdoors, often in less than ideal conditions (rain, cold). Of the six I have working for me, four have come to us through the Temporary Foreign Worker program.
I have dealt for years with an immigration consultant who is honest, fair-minded and helpful. Together, we work to bring people in under the provisions of the Foreign Worker program. My employees are loyal, hard-working and grateful to have jobs here.
The foreign-worker system does work properly for some. And were it not for this program, I would not have a successful gardening business.
Barry Auger, Vancouver
Weaponizing voting data
Re Foreign Interference Is Likely In Fall Election, Security Agency Warns (April 9): There has already been a brazen attempt to disrupt our democracy, but evidence points to domestic political operatives, not foreign ones.
The 2011 federal Robocall scandal has been poorly understood for what it really was – a premeditated data crime, an early prototype of election misinformation, mass data harvesting and the weaponization of that data against voters. This extends beyond the one person convicted, Conservative campaign worker Michael Sona.
Established breaches of the Conservative Information Management System (CIMS) in Guelph, Winnipeg South Centre, Yukon, Saskatoon-Rosetown-Biggar, Elmwood-Transcona, Nipissing-Temiskaming, and Vancouver Island North have never been solved or properly investigated.
The “non-supporter” data removed from those databases was used in attempts to suppress Canadians’ votes. It was agreed at trial that Mr. Sona did not access the CIMS data.
If we are truly going to protect our democracy from hacking and malign actors going into the 2019 federal election, we need to get to the bottom of how the Conservative Party database was breached, and by whom. Elections Canada was recently granted new powers to compel testimony under Bill C-76. Now is the time to use those powers.
Susan Watson, Guelph, Ont.
Stratford’s mayor on the swan parade
Re Swan Song (April 8): Thank you for the coverage of Stratford’s annual swan parade. The parade is a welcome sign of spring, and as with previous years, it attracted several thousand spectators and national media attention.
The article incorrectly blamed the Stratford Festival’s construction of the new Tom Patterson Theatre for the smaller celebrations. This is simply not correct.
In fact, the Stratford Tourism Alliance made a decision to reduce the lakeside activities in favour of encouraging visitors to enjoy our beautiful downtown core. We are fortunate to have an abundance of wonderful restaurants, shops and attractions and our Tourism Alliance wanted to showcase these businesses in conjunction with the parade.
I would encourage your readers to visit Stratford to see first-hand the wonderful range of offerings in our city, from the parkland and swans to the theatre, Summer Music and vibrant downtown core.
Dan Mathieson, mayor, Stratford, Ont.
Re Overdose-Prevention Sites Are A Matter Of Life Or Death. Ontario Has Made Its Choice (Opinion, April 6): With due respect, several assertions made by Carlyn Zwarenstein don’t agree with our experience. I co-own an independent bookstore located across the street from the only safe injection site in Calgary. In our experience, it is not a myth but a fact that needle debris increases dramatically as the number of daily site visits rises.
Needle debris only ceases to be a problem once the site arranges, and the city pays for, needle collection service. Likewise, according not only to our experience but also to Calgary Police Service stats, violence and property damage do in fact rise sharply.
I am no fan of Doug Ford, nor of conservative ideology. I agree with the author that addicts deserve compassion, treatment and safety, and that overdose-prevention-site services save lives. But if they are not set up thoughtfully and run properly, and if they don’t accept their responsibility to be good neighbours, they can cause very real damage and disorder in the community.
JoAnn McCaig, Calgary
B.C.’s broken promises
Re BC Hydro Shedding ‘Junk Power’ – Also Known As Clean Energy Investment (April 8): Your article describes some of the disastrous fallout of Site C for Indigenous communities across the province, as BC Hydro shrugs off contracts for renewable power signed in good faith by communities with limited resources. The story of these communities is presented within a broader narrative of electrification and the B.C. climate plan. A reader might well conclude that B.C.’s broken promises to these communities were regrettable collateral damage in the pursuit of an otherwise noble clean-energy quest.
Unfortunately, the clean-energy quest itself, at least as legislated and delivered by B.C.’s past three premiers, is anything but. The extra generating capacity of Site C will be put to work in an enabling role to our successive governments’ insatiable LNG obsession. B.C will export this carbon-intensive fuel, while B.C. citizens electrify our lives “with zero lifestyle changes” – that is, those who are able to afford some of the highest hydro bills on the continent.
Not to mention the significant climate impacts of Site C itself, as outlined in the 2017 UNESCO Reactive Monitoring mission report.
From Muskrat Falls to Site C, megaproject boondoggles always seem to start with broken promises to Indigenous communities. They rarely end there.
Ana Simeon, Victoria