Wednesday, October 26, 2016

The Youth Voice is Our Voice

If ever there was ever any doubt about the neoliberal agenda being pursued by our 'new' government, Finance Minister Bill Morneau's recent comments removed all uncertainty. He asserted that precarious work is here to stay and Canadians must adapt to having a variety of jobs throughout their lives as they experience the euphemistically phrased 'job churn.' Never have I read a more bald admission of submission to the corporatocracy agenda.

The above was just one of the frustrations about the Trudeau government that a group of youth was voicing yesterday as a number of them turned their backs on the Prime Minister at the Canadian Labour Congress National Young Workers Summit in Ottawa. While precarious work is the problem they most immediately feel, they also did not forget about climate change, pipelines, and a litany of other issues that reveal the disparity between Trudeau's lofty rhetoric and the reality of the Harperesque policies the Liberals are following.

In my mind, we owe these young people a debt of gratitude for their refusal to be polite and pretending all is well. They are the voice of all who care about our world.


  1. JT's annoyed response to not being regarded as the new World's Bestest Fellow was what got me - peeved, put out, thin-skinned.

    And now, on to the TPP to make sure Morneau's words become an even more stark reality for youth. Look at Bill's Advisory Council on Economic Growth formed in March this year.

    Get a load of this lot of angelic $1 a year neolibs (plus all the parliamentary canteen food they can eat). Why yes, they opened their collective mouths again recently, just at the end of last week:

    And Bill says he will certainly study the recommendations. Oh goody.

    As a matter of fact, I am in favour of generalized free trade deals myself, sans any clauses regarding investors, because I do not see why their interests should matter above that of the citizenry. Walkom made the point I neglected to mention the other day, which is that ISDS provisions were originally incorporated to stop people like Idi Amin from gerrymandering his own courts in case of dispute, rather than from any worries in first world countries about their courts.

    Why Trudeau and his brains Trust cannot work out why people are upset, then he will be annoyed perpetually by their reaction until he gets it. Don't think he's introspective enough to realize that.


    1. Thanks for the commentary and links, BM. I shall read them as I always do. I have been reading a book by Jeffrey Sachs called The Price of Civilization. Because of its upsetting nature, I generally read about a chapter per day, discussing as it does the abject failure of the American government to represent the interest of its citizens instead of the imperatives of the neoliberal agenda. The game is rigged there against those who vote earnestly for the progressive promises of the politicians; it is becoming increasingly apparent that the same dishonest game is being played by the Liberal government, clothing themselves in the rhetoric of progressiveness while carrying out the bidding of their true masters.

  2. Having had many "careers" myself (some of them remarkably short-lived) it can be a wonderful thing if it's a matter of choice. Today, however, that's a rarity. Young people aren't shifting to pursue new opportunities but to try to secure a paycheque.

    It's a terrific scenario for employers. A large pool of periodically displaced labour is an excellent way of suppressing wage demands. People who need to catch up on a couple of months back rent don't have a lot of bargaining power nor are they apt to have large bank balances.

    As Roosevelt noted in his 1910 Square Deal speech, the primary role of a democratic government is to preserve and advance the wellbeing of its society and integral to that is to balance the interests of labour and capital, always recognizing that labour is "by far the superior of capital." This recognizes that the worker is not only an asset of the employer but also an asset of the nation and its people, an important reality we have largely jettisoned in the neoliberal era.

    The wellbeing of the people is the wellbeing of the nation and that's a powerful truth being neglected by government today. Allowing the spread of a "precariat" undermines and weakens the state.

    The essence of neoliberalism is the state yielding, wherever possible, to the markets that are considered less fallible. That fails to realize that markets rarely share the same interests or approaches that government may hold in these transferred matters. The state is supposed to work for its people. Why on Earth would markets, corporations legally bound to pursue the best interests of their shareholders, work for some populace? The conflict is inherent and we've seen that play out again and again and again.

    Yet governments, blinded by their obsession with perpetual exponential growth as a means to plaster over the potholes in their lacklustre governance, can't shake the globalism model that, for more than a decade has been revealed an utter failure in fulfilling its promises. If the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund are openly denouncing neoliberalism as destructive, why are governments ignoring them and what good will ever come of their neglect?

    If this government ever aspired to any vision that has been blocked by its fealty to neoliberal doctrine. The new puppy is always cutest before it craps on the sofa.

    1. I love the way you summed this up, Mound. That is an image of Trudeau I shall carry in my mind for some time to come.

      For those who follow events, the failure of political leadership today is manifest. We see it, of course, in the U.S., where Trump's diseased campaign has latched on to the profound disenchantment ordinary people feel over being ignored by their elected representatives. If Hillary is elected and fails to act upon this disenchantment, American society will continue to factionalize, and perhaps an even worse candidate for office will emerge. Here in Canada, although we are more subdued, that same discontent is growing, but where it will lead is anyone's guess. Trudeau had better get used to feeling frustrated with people who don't recognize his 'greatness;' it is a natural consequence of the fact that he raised hopes so highly, only to dash them with the usual cynicism that politicians are so well-known for.

  3. What do you think Lorne our government or any government for that matter, gains, by betraying its citizens in its support of a neoliberal policy agenda, both domestic and globally?

    My concern is with the Canadian government of course, who seems to have totally embraced neoliberalism. What inspires Trudeau and his party to turn their backs on Canadians and their interests? What's in it for them?

    I have been researching and reading to try to answer that question. I don't think it always comes down to money. Does the book you are reading answer that question?

    1. It is strange that you ask this question, Pamela, as it is the very one i have been asking myself as I read the Jeffrey Sachs book. In the United States, part of the answer derives from the fact that the rich and powerful, both as individuals and corporations, fund the various political campaigns to a far greater extent than poor or middle-class people do. As well, there are often very lucrative lobbying careers offered to politicians after they leave office. In some ways, their stints in office are only auditions for their post-political careers. There is more to it than this, of course, including the decentralized nature of political power in the United States, making senators and congressmen much more susceptible to demands of the aforesaid within their own states.

      Here in Canada, with party discipline, you would think our politics would be more responsive, but that is obviously not the case. I think part of it is due to who is able to run for office. Consider, for example, our finance minister, Bill Morneau, who left a very lucrative business background to run for the Liberals. A look at the Wikipedia entry for him is revealing. People like him, I think, are used to being part of the 'movers and shakers' culture and hence it is fair to assume he holds the same values, values that emphasize money and business opportunity, not concern for the average person. The fundraisers he holds that offer direct-access to him (and he is by no means unique here) also offer some insight into who is important to him. Take a look at this link to see the drug company that is hosting his next fund-raiser:

      Apotex, as the above link makes clear, is involved in lobbying Ottawa.

      I've only scratched the surface here, and will continue to think about the question. It seems to me that every institution has a culture, and government is no different. The longer one is in government, the more likely one is to adopt that institution's values. And of course for some, once elected, forsaking their constituency's interests is easy if career advancement was their prime reason for seeking office in the first place.

      I hope others will weigh in with their thoughts on the question, Pamela.

  4. I find there are often symbolic moments in the early part of a government's life that demonstrate where their arrogance is where they will eventually fail. It happened early in John Major's mandate when England was forced out of the Exchange Rate Mechanism (a moment that many commentators said destroyed forever Major's credibility with The City). There were a few such moments for Harper and I am not sure which one I would highlight. I think this week was just such a moment for Trudeau. The protest followed by Trudeau's childish hissy-fit, coupled with Morneau's statement that people just need to "suck it up" regarding precarious employment, are the moment historians will remember as the day when the Trudeau varnish began to crumble. It might also go down as the moment when Canadian millennials realized that the Liberal Government has no interest in actually addressing the wake of destruction that neo-liberalism has left, and that Trudeau might have a nice smile but that he is really just part of the establishment that led us into this hole.

    1. That, I fear, Kirby, neatly sums up the 'substance' of our Harper-replacement government. I would it were otherwise, not only for the well-being of current and future generations, but also for those who took the bold step of voting for the first time. I hope this doesn't turn them off politics, but I have a feeling that the kind of spirit and resolve the young people showed in this encounter will not be going away. We need to support their efforts to bring about real change, and when the politicos fail to deliver, hold them to searing account.