Sunday, January 28, 2018

More Empty Rhetoric

Those of us capable of casting a critical eye on the Prime Minister are well aware of his capacity for rhetorical flourish. Unfortunately, that flourish is often an end in itself. Concrete action and legislative initiatives rarely follow. And frequently that rhetorical capacity escapes him when he has no answer to the question. There were several examples of this last week in Davos. Today's post deals with one of them.
At a press conference in Davos, Switzerland, Thursday, Trudeau suggested that laid-off Sears workers, many of whom had counted on their company pensions for their retirement, fall back on employment insurance and the Canada Pension Plan.

Asked by Globe and Mail bureau chief Bob Fife what his government would do about the fact Sears left its pensions underfunded while doling out millions in bonuses to execs, Trudeau gave a vague response.

"Canada continues to support people going through difficult times," Trudeau said. "Obviously pensioners who face uncertainty need to be supported, need to be reassured. That's why Canada has measures like the Canada Pension Plan, like employment insurance benefits — a broad range of ways we can support people who are facing unexpected downturns or layoffs."

"So nothing is going to happen to Sears," Fife responded.
A followup question was posed, which you can watch below starting at about the 2:25 mark:



The Prime Minister says that the Sears situation doesn't have any easy answers. How about a legislative fix to provide pension protection during bankruptcy proceedings, Mr. Trudeau, so that this sad situation doesn't happen again and again and again?

8 comments:

  1. Sears pension is a provincial issue, not federal.

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    1. Thanks for the correction, UU4077. I do wonder, however, since both the Bankruptcy and Insolvency Act and the Companies’ Creditors Arrangement Act fall under federal law, whether relief at that level could be enacted.

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  2. Perhaps we should revisit the statutes by which we establish corporations.

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    1. An eminently sensible suggestion, Owen.

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  3. If there was a remedy under the BIA or CCAA, Lorne, you can be sure the union's lawyers would have pounced by now. As I understand it, this is an outright bankruptcy which rules out CCAA.

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  4. Trudeau is not a gifted orator. He seems to be searching for the first available talking point but rarely does he get beyond a simple volley return. His father gained enmity from the journos by engaging their questions and not letting go. He would turn a loaded question into a debate that often ended with the reporter struggling with a rhetorical question from the then prime minister. Barbara Frum used to interview PET at Christmas and every year she came loaded for bear and every year Trudeau was like Lucy holding the football. Like him or not, it really was a delight to watch. There's none of that in the son. He doesn't parry questions and often comes away looking unconvincing, unsure.

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  5. I believe Owen is onto something. We ought to review our corporations laws. Today's multi-national, trans-national, even supra-national corporations were beyond the imagination of the framers of our provincial and federal ordinances. In the transformation we've lost much of our ability to regulate corporate entities doing business in our country or hold them to account. They even resort to in-house money laundering by setting up favourable, "profit swallowing" transactions between subsidiaries that are often registered in convenience jurisdictions where pretty much anything goes.

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    1. There is much to consider here, Mound. Thanks for the input. I think we can all agree that current configurations are not serving the people well, and that it is morally incumbent upon both provincial and federal jurisdictions to make sincere attempts to remedy or at least mitigate the damage being done, even if it goes against their neoliberal instincts.

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