The Commons: Help Wanted

‘Mr. Speaker, I actually have some examples here of what constitutes suitable employment’, reported Ted Menzies


Adrian Wyld/CP Images

The Scene. Peggy Nash was very nearly pleading. “Will someone in the government,” she asked, “please outline right now what constitutes suitable employment?”

In Ms. Nash’s moment of need it was Ted Menzies, minister of state for finance, who stood. “Mr. Speaker, I actually have some examples here of what constitutes suitable employment,” he reported.

At last, clarity seemed at hand. “A mining company in Newfoundland is looking to hire 1,500 people in St. John’s, Newfoundland, through the temporary foreign worker program,” Mr. Menzies explained. “There are 32,500 people looking for work right now. That is why we are trying to make EI more effective to help these mining companies get people to employ.”

What precisely was the minister of state suggesting here? That if you are presently looking for work you might soon be expected to strap on a helmet lamp and make for St. John’s? And are there really only 32,500 people in this country presently looking for work?

There were chuckles of incredulity from the opposition side.

Another opposition question afforded Mr. Menzies an opportunity to further explain himself.

“I do want to clarify that 32,500 looking for work were actually in Newfoundland,” he said, “as was the mining company that was looking for the 1,500 people.”

“Ahh!” mocked voices from the other side. Thomas Mulcair shook his head in demonstrable exasperation.

Mr. Menzies tried another example. “Nova Scotia’s recent shipbuilding contract will create over 15,000 jobs over the next 30 years and the provincial government is already talking about importing workers,” he posited. “At this point there are 45,000 Nova Scotians looking for work.”

So the unemployed in Nova Scotia will soon be asked to build ships?

Another question then and another chance for Mr. Menzies to explain.

“Mr. Speaker, as I have been saying, there are available jobs out there, but we will ensure that Canadians will not be expected to take jobs that are not within their skill-set,” he offered.

So only those out-of-work Nova Scotians with skills particular to the building of ships will be asked to take work?

“One other thing we need to exemplify,” he continued, oddly, “is that no job seeker will be asked to relocate.”

Ah. So only out-of-work Haligonians with skills particular to the building of ships will be asked to take work.

This perhaps begs more questions. Like, how many out-of-work Haligonians with skills particular to the building of ships would otherwise turn down one of those 15,000 jobs? And if relocation is not to be demanded and one’s skill set is relevant , how precisely are those “45,000 Nova Scotians looking for work” applicable to those 15,000 jobs?

“The important thing here is, there is a lot of people who want to go to work, there are people who are on EI,” Mr. Menzies clarified. “We need to make sure its effective and the jobs that are still vacant can be filled.”

Despite all of this explanation, the official opposition remained unsatisfied. “When will she stand up,” Chris Charlton asked of the absent Human Resources Minsiter, “and give Canadians a straight answer about her plans for EI?”

In response to Ms. Charlton, Mr. Menzies returned to something he had earlier claimed that the leader of the opposition said.

“I would like to quote the leader of the NDP once more, that we, on this side of the House do not think it is, as he says  ‘a colossal waste’ when Canadians are actually working,” Mr. Menzies admonished. “Canadians working in restaurants, as truck drivers, as food handlers, we think they are important contributors to the Canadian economy. We support and applaud those Canadians.”

It is unclear whether Mr. Mulcair has actually used this phrase in this regard*, but Ms. Nash has.

“It is a colossal waste of skills,” she said the other day, “if we have people who are trained as computer engineers or teachers or nurses or electricians who are working in retail, Tim Hortons or picking fruit in the agricultural sector because it means they may not be available when a job in their field comes open.”

From Mr. Menzies’ attempted explanations, it is unclear in what way he disagrees with Ms. Nash.

The Stats. Employment, 10 questions. Telecommunications, five questions. Old Age Security, the environment and aboriginal affairs, four questions each. Government spending, trade, satellites and the territories, two questions each. Immigration, resource development, Senate reform and food safety, one question each.

Stephen Harper and Ted Menzies, seven responses each. Leona Aglukkaq, six responses. Vic Toews, five responses. Peter Kent, four responses. Christian Paradis and Ed Fast, two responses each. Tony Clement, Pierre Poilievre, Tim Uppal, Gerry Ritz, one response each.

*Note: I’ve asked Mr. Menzies’ office to clarify to what the minister of state was referring. Mr. Menzies’ office confirms that he misattributed the quote.


The Commons: Help Wanted

  1. Cons have no idea what they’re doing. They just make it up as they go along.

  2. wait… what?

  3. What hogwash! What idiotic, inconsiderate, imbeciles, of infantile, inept, ignorance! Of course there are people who will work, but the shipbuilding industry in Canada has been in a constant decline for fifty years and more. These wire pullers should be tossed out on their asses and forced to work themselves.

  4. The EI system suffers many abuses certainly but this crew has no comprehension apparently of what they really are let alone how to fix them.
    It not only takes welders to work in shipbuilding but it takes welders qualified in the type of welding being done. Lest we want leaky ships to add to our fleet of leaky subs. You hire who you can but it will unfortunately take some training of existing welders and new ones to meet demand.
    Mining? Yes lets pull a couple out of work office clerks and thrust them into a job that might kill the naive and poorly conditioned.
    If you want to fix EI you would see to it that farms aren’t idle without drivers for harvest while the government pays the fish plant drivers to stay home.

  5. So the Conservative Party doesn’t trust me to use my EI money properly. Money that is mine, for all intents and purposes. After all, I paid into it for god knows how many years. I thought it was the lefties that didn’t trust taxpayers to spend their money properly.

    I’m confused….

    PS…yes I’m down here in lovely 28 degree San Diego with my orange blossoms and avocados, but I was collecting EI three years ago. I used the free time to look for work and look after my kids so my wife could increase her hours. I guess Jimmie and Dean del Mastro consider me a freeloader even though I paid into the EI fund for 17 years,

    Can these Conservatives get any more Liberal-like in their obtuseness?

    • The righties only trust people with lots of money to spend it properly. Wasn`t there a kerfluffle a few years back about welfare only being spent on beer & cable TV?

      We`ve lost the right to strike under federal jurisdictions, the cost of education is beyond a good percentage of the population, the right to protest & freedom of assembly are pretty much gone, and now forced labour. Anyone else see a trend?

      • To be clear: the quote about beer and popcorn came from a liberal. But the point has to be made that there are jobs, and people need to match their skills with the jobs available. Plenty of training available. Gobs of it. Should be possible to make the effort and get those jobs.

  6. Hayzoo Kristie. Has anyone, anywhere ever seen a more pushed-above-their-paygrade cadre of imbecilic chimps pulling the levers of power just to see what happens? Oh, wait….

    It’s all coming back…that guy…in Ontario….Harris! Yeah, that guy! He had a couple of cabinet ministers….Jim Fitz…no…Flatul….Falherty? Oh, and John Bird…Byrd,,,Baird? And this weaselly little dude they called ”Tony’. It was bad. They damn near sacked the treasury (Well, they actually did) and iceberged the ship of state.

    Oh. My. Lord. It’s like a moebius strip of complete goofitude writ large on a national scale.

  7. Why don’t the teachers RNs, electricians and engineers just buy a car 2 years older, a house 100 square ft less, and save their money? What is the point of EI? Turn a skilled workforce into a seasonal obsolete workforce?

    • Is it a reward? Skilled mentally healthy immigrants, 67 yr retirement age (since we are getting healthier) and killing EI are my favourite J.Flaherty actions of recent.
      Is EI a reward for working a certain amount of hours? Seriously, what did we make EI? It is parasitic in recessions, and creates a Soviet obsolete workforce. Why not just pay to relocate where is jobs and housing, or pay to retrain?
      Spend the money on healthy food food stamps or invent the healthiest nutritional labelling system on Earth. Have grocery store display longevity losses of light and moderate consumptions of all foods. Claw back EI for Ralph Bucks or personal finance counselling.

  8. If you’ve got a deal with your boss to lay you off under certain conditions or at a certain time, you aren’t only corrupting yourself, you are corrupting your employer.

    • If you work in an occupation where you are laid off too much, you can get a loan to be retrained. If you can’t get that loan then you can ask J.Flaherty to make the banks or provinces lend money to you. Living in a communist welfare pervert province like NS isn’t an excuse.

      • I suggest picking an occupation with highest placement % if being laid off bugs you.
        I guess the reasoning is, is that once you’ve worked an occupation for 600 hrs at a high wage, you are entitled to be on pogey for life or work that perfect job?

      • This comment was deleted.

  9. Good job totally eviscerating Ted Menzies chickenshit talking point.

    Under any normal insurance regime, premiums would be higher for high risk employers and employees. Not in Canada. It’s a subsidy for seasonal employers.

    Then there are all those who don’t qualify for EI payments for some bullshit reason or another even after they paid into it for years. And if you do qualify, it can take up to 3 months before you get your first cheque. The commission laid off some temp workers, you see.

    Come tax time, don’t be surprised if you find your EI income clawed back at a 60% tax rate even if you have just an average income. Now there is a tax that the conservatives love.

    And let’s not forget that past governments have skimmed off over $50 BILLION in excess EI premiums to pay off debts.

    But the crème de la crème is the $260 MILLION forgivable loan that the Nova Scotia government has handed to Irving Shipbuilding to kick start its $25 BILLION naval defense contract.

    If any reader here is not familiar with the word plutocracy, they should read the Wikipedia link because that is what Canada has become.