Author Archives: celtics08

Reform we deserve

This semester in Jeffery Shantz special topics class on dissent and criminalization my group, for our term project, were takes with discussing government surveillance on those who are opposed to the pipelines. To aid in our research of how the government watches protesters we used the Access to Information Act; we were able to get a hold of a previous request that had been filed with the National Energy Board. The documents we received were heavily redacted several pages were just blank. Any time there was information that we deemed to be important it was redacted.

It was at this point that I realized that the ATIA was inefficient; in class my suspicions were further confirmed. There have been many attempts at changing the ATIA, but none have become law. In 2004 a private members bill was introduced into parliament that was designed to change the Act. The bill was going to change the name of the Access to Information act to the Open Government Act, hardly a big change; however, it did propose monumental changes (Douglas & Loranger & Litwhick, 2012). The bill was going to expand the governmental departments that citizens were able to file ATIs with (Douglas & Loranger & Litwhick, 2012). It doesn’t specifically list what agencies would be affected by this change, but its not conjecture to say crown corporations could have been included. It would be interesting to see the practices of ICBC or BC Hydro. This bill would have also made it a requirement of the Commissioners office to create a list every year of what departments comply with the requests they receive, and which don’t (Douglas & Loranger & Litwhick, 2012). This is an effective tool to make organizations comply with requests to information. Public pressure can be applied to these organizations to answer why they are not open, as they need to be; public pressure is a great toll to humiliate and demand that an organization fulfill the requirements that is bound by law to comply with. This new law would also have made the deliberations between ministers, when discussing policies, available to the public (Douglas & Loranger & Litwhick, 2012). This would allow the public to see what ideas the ministers considered, and how they arrived at the final decision.

In the Bok’s article on government secrecy an explanation if offered that could explain why government is hesitant to reform the Access to Information Act. It is stated that the government when deciding on new policies lists all the options that are on the table; some of these options can be a bit extreme, but need to be considered (Bok, 1989). For example, if North Korea tests a new missile ministers might discus bombing their capital, and command and control centers. To the public this might seem extreme and will portray the government as monsters; however, it is unlikely that the government will do this, but do need to discus it to see if it is a possibility. With the new law the discussions that minsters have would be available to the public, so this could be why the government does not want to reform the ATI laws. The Access to Information laws do need to be changed. They are no longer up to par.

Bok, S. (1989). Secrets: on the ethics of concealment and revelation. New

York: Vintage Books.

Douglas, K., & Loranger, E, & Lithwich, D. The Access to Information Act and

Proposals for ReformThe Access to Information Act and Proposals for

Reform. Reterived from http://www.parl.gc.ca/Content/LOP/Research

Publications/2005-55-e.htm#a8

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The TFW program

My response is going to focus on the individuals who work in Canada, but who are not legal citizens. Instead of focusing on the Temporary Foreign Worker Program I am going to look at work permits in Canada. I have a close friendship with a individual who is on a work permit; we meet through my family when he came here from India. To obtain his work permit, which helps him become a Canadian citizen, he had to pay under the table to his employer and his lawyer an extra $10,000. Currently his permit enables him to work at a [*******] Restaurant in Williams Lake; however, he does not reside nor work in Williams Lake. The owner only fills out paper work that says he works for him; this is the choice of the owner. He has to work in surrey at three different jobs. He works at different gas stations throughout the lower mainland; his average pay from the gas stations is 8.75. In B.C. the minimum wage is 10.75; he is not able to complain about his wage because the gas station owner will fire him, and replace him with someone else who is also not a citizen. He has no rights because of his work permit. When any of his managers call him he has to come in for that shift right away. It is very hard for him to make ends meet; he works 60 hours a week, and at the end of the month he has barely made over two thousand dollars. When you factor in rent, transportation, food, and clothing. He is saving next to nothing.

We will look next at what structural Marxism would have to say about foreign workers. Structural Marxism believes that government works for capital, and to reproduce exploitative relationships. In capitalism the workers have to be exploited by the owners (Pavlich, 2011). Capitalism only works if workers are producing more value then they are being paid for.  For the owners Work permits, as we have seen, allow owners to gain access to cheap labor that they can control. They are over time able to gain repeated access to cheap labor through work permits, which is a government program. This show that the government is working to keep exploitative relationships in society. Because a worker who is a non citizen can be released from their work permit at any time, there is no room for workers to complain, or ask for raises. Structural Marxism would say that the government has made the system like this so that owners do not have to listen to worker concerns (Comack, 2006).  Because workers have no rights even thinking about a Union is out the question for foreign workers. Without unions workers typically receive less pay then those who are in unions. An intended consequence of foreign workers is to keep citizens from asking for to much from their employers. Employes will be weary when they ask for raises, and from complaining to much about working conditions because they will be wondering if they complain to much will they be replaced by a foreign worker. This relates to the idea of unemployment that is created by capitalism; in the back of workers minds they are thinking that they can always be replaced. Structural Marxism when evaluating any type of foreign worker program would say that it is created to keep inequality in society. Cain does not see the exploitative relationships that exist in society changing; capitalism will only change he believes when the ruling class, the bourgeoisie, want it to change (Pavlich, 2011). There is no reason for the bourgeoisie to want to change the way the system currently operates. They make great amounts of money; no one questions it because the superstructure makes them believe that this is the way things are supposed to be (Pavlich, 2011).

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