#184 – Incredulous Canada

Cakers love talking about immigration. Whether it’s the unique blend of garbage and idiocy that usually comes after the words “this isn’t politically correct, but” or the shameless self-promotion of Laurentian fucks looking to get a booster shot of caker mythology while finding more people to fleece, immigration is one of Canada’s stupidest talking points. One of myriad manifestations of ersatz compromise between the stupid and the slippery is Canada’s interest in taking professional immigrants with degrees and accreditations, promising them steady work and a better life in Canada, and then immediately bailing on the recent migrant by denying the validity of their degrees and certifications. Cakers don’t even accept caker accreditations; how likely are they to understand the merits of foreign degrees?

The beauty of this shafting mechanism is that it allows for both the red-meat racism of the kind that really gets the “swills beer while standing in garage” demographic and the mythological “faire Canada” of the shameless Laurentian to stand in the same place. See? There’s totally work in Canada! Migrants are coming from all over with all sorts of skills and talents! And when the migrant either can’t find work at all or join the ranks of the underemployed masses like the 53% of migrant cabbies with degrees Marty the Beer-Swilling Moron can have his go at the “dem dam migrents arr takeing our JOBS!!!!”. Cakers win, education loses. Just another day in Canada.

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(s) The loftiest dreams start here and end in a cab dodging caker puke

It doesn’t help that Canada has a nightmarishly complicated screening process and migrants are frequently not told of the complexities awaiting them. And it’s not like the government is helping; take a look at the website for the Canadian Information Centre for International Credentials. Are you not fluent in English or French yet? Hope you can read this in one of those languages because the fuck if Canada’s gonna put this information in languages that migrants are more likely to understand! Nothing says “welcome to Canada, where we will help you towards a new life” like a wall of complex instructions laden with exceptions and requirements.

The result? Stressed-out, pissed-off people who bail at the first chance and leave with the battle scars associated with trying to exist in Cakertown. One-third of male immigrants to Canada leave after fewer than 20 years; of those, most will bail out within the first year. And in so doing they affirm the two-headed hypocrisy of Canadian thinking about migrants. They came seeking hope to satisfy the Laurentian twit; they “couldn’t tough it out” and “didn’t keep their sticks on the ice” to satisfy the Below-Average Hockeymans Caker-Brigades. Even better, we can slam the door on people who are waiting without a lick of transparency for God-knows-what forms to be filled. Want to go home and visit family? Well, fuck you – if you leave, you’re not coming back. Even if you were educated in Canada on a student visa, confusion and complication end up sending people away. We’ll take you money, folks, but Canada doesn’t exactly have a track record of holding up its end of a bargain. Ask the Indigenous.

This has a sad, personal dimension that I want to hammer in before I sign off. Canada isn’t just ruining the lives of abstracted individuals. These are human beings, people with goals and hopes and dreams who were duped and ended up as cabbies, cashiers, temporary help – dreck-work that in no way meshes with the visions and promises they were given. I got shit out of the caker university system grizzled and pissy enough; Lord knows the pain of people who came so far for so little. Want to see some victims, people who were duped and deceived into leaving friends and family to come to a concrete bog? Here’s a big ol’ list of ’em, each one a stark reminder of the human costs associated with caker mythology not even remotely meshing with Canadian reality.

And as you flip through the link just remember – cakers are proud of their concept of multiculturalism.

 

 

#177 – No Hope for the Educated

Canada has a worrying trend that isn’t being talked about and that totally kneecaps #RealChange’s make-believe Fourth Industrial Revolution. It’s quite one thing to not have Internet access – in theory at least that could be addressed and fixed in a relatively short amount of time (that is, if this wasn’t Canada we were talking about). No, there’s a much deeper problem that takes a lot longer to fix in a way that provides noticeable upturn. That problem is wages for the highly-educated are roughly on par with those for a construction worker. This is not a demonstration of an intelligent economy or an intelligent workforce of the sort that we’re constantly told Canada has going for it. Whoops!

And the fun thing about education is that simply shouting into blank faces doesn’t cut it – you need a population that’s actually interested in learning and improving if you’re going to get anywhere. What you need are incentives to convince people that educations are a good idea or passionate people who are prepared to learn at any cost. Incentives like higher pay and a better work environment are a critical part of the rationale behind the education and labor choices that people make. When it’s easier to ride the wave of a resource boom than it is to make a concerted effort to get better at a skill it suggests that the employment market is too unstable for people to feel as if they have a shot at a better job after their training. This is demonstrated in our universities, which are attended more for “the experience” than because over any sort of hope for quality education.

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(s) “The experience” being drunkenness followed by underemployment

And indeed the labor landscape in Canada is to say the least profoundly precarious. Over half of Toronto’s employed are working in an unreliable way – contracts, temporary employment through a predatory agency (like the kind our current Finance Minister used to run), or part-time bit work. Having done plenty of this kind of work myself I can assure you that being a temp worker to try to make money for school is a thankless and emotional chore. In the context of ever-rising costs there’s an obvious incentive to go be a lunkhead wherever the going’s good and the income is both adequate and constant enough to try to form a life. It’s hard to blame the people of Canada for their desperation, but it is plenty easy to point to the structure of the Canadian economy and the perverse incentives that it produces.

The reason I say that these results are perverse is because education isn’t only useful for employment. Educated, literate people are a good in and of themselves. You want educated people – there’s a reason educational achievement is a development marker. With that in mind it’s a real shame that Canada’s private sector hires 4% of Ph.D students, a stunning ten times fewer than the evil idiot AmeriKKKans. So Canada’s prepared to pretend to have an interest and a need for educated people but in reality the trip to a doctorate is discouraged by limited job prospects and an economy that operates on the same principles and logic as the family dog during a game of catch.

I honestly do give #RealChange a bit of credit for acknowledging that our current situation is untenable. But then I take it right away again when he hallucinates visions of Silicon Valley Canada edition. Knowing that there’s a problem is one thing; actually understanding the problem is quite something else. With indicators like the ones I’ve shown you – the declining monetary value of more advanced education, the limited employment prospects and the iffy labor market that supports them, ever-rising costs – the Silicon Valley fever dream isn’t going to happen. What instead seems to be encouraged is a nomadic life of hunting for the latest instance of a resource bubble and riding it until it bursts.

 

 

 

#125 – Getting Schooled, Part Eight: The Truth

Yesterday, Canada had a watershed moment as it was forced to talk about the genocidal operation of residential schools and the horrors they inflicted upon children. We’ve gone from murdering puppies to abusing children, folks. Naturally, Canada sat at rapt attenti-HAHAHA! Sorry – I tried. No, Canada visited the report with snores and racism, including our very own version of Holocaust denial (warning: link may cause permanent brain damage). Let’s take a look at Canada’s reaction to its equivalent to the Holocaust.

Oh, and yes. I am equating this event to the Holocaust. Canada was organized and the state designed to invoke a Final Solution here. The fact that Canada produced an inferior genocide machinery to Nazi Germany is immaterial to the fact that Canada produced, maintained, and enacted a Final Solution. Fuck you, National Post article.

Stephen Harper:

Reacted by saying that he wouldn’t be bringing Canada up to the UN’s standard, the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People.

Refused to acknowledge the Commission’s finding that the schools were an active part of a genocide.

Will not commit to following any of the TRC’s 94 provisions.

The Canadian Government:

Provided constant legal challenges to the TRC collecting documents, wasting years and millions of dollars on legal fees for information that had to get out anyways.

Sent the Minister of Indian Affairs, who couldn’t even be bothered to stand for the Commission when they were about to deliver their final report.

Set aside $1m to protect the documentation of the TRC and another $1m for education regarding the residential schools, an amount five times less than the amount provided to earthquake-ridden Nepal and 210 times less than the amount Canada set aside for its 150th birthday.

Justin Trudeau:

Promised to outline all 94 recommendations of the TRC, including the ones that aren’t federal responsibilities. How he intends to circumvent the federal/provincial divide is unknown. Political football? Justin? No way!!

Thomas Mulcair:

Said little, called for passing of law to mirror the Declaration on on the Rights of Indigenous People.

This is, of course, the day after Canada came to the official conclusion that it committed genocide by targetting children. A little muted, no? Just like what happened in 2008, when Stephen Harper pulled his apology stageplay and then proceeded to continue the Canadian government’s policy of repression, Canada will pretend to notice and then hope to forget. I’m still reading the TRC but the reaction to it certainly was an all-Canadian one – rather than acknowledging the massive Constitutional holes regarding Indian rights, the frankly insane legal position that Indian sovereignty died in 1873 (which is, of course, why Latvia and Poland no longer exist, as international norms clearly dictate “neener-neener, we took it so it’s ours forever now”) and the fact that the country is a treaty sandwich (Quebec and BC are outside the Numbered Treaties), let’s instead defend ourselves and do exactly what Murray Sinclair said wouldn’t work – idly talking about the problem.

Fucking Canada. You got a rare second chance and you totally blew it.

#124 – Getting Schooled, Part Seven: Job Security for the Educated? Blasphemy!

English Canada still does not and likely never will quite grasp the fact that education is a good thing and that the educated probably shouldn’t be left to their own devices.

The CBC for once cut the crap and got to the point with this article, entitled “Most university undergrads now taught by poorly-paid part timers“. It speaks to a concept called the precariat, a group of people who have one hand on the employment ladder and just can’t get any higher. There are a number of disadvantages to clinging to part-time, unstable work like ivy in a hurricane. It’s a good thing that those crippling disadvantages can be entirely downloaded onto the Canadian working class of the future!

There’s an ideal cycle here between government, researchers, and universities. It works like this: governments fund universities, which in turn hire researchers as professors. Said professors in turn generate knowledge and data, two things that governments desperately need in order to do their jobs. Schools and governments purchase this research material for their own researchers and policy-makers, thus exposing more people to that data and thus eliciting more responses and hypotheses. It’s idealistic and obviously not going to be perfect, but it supplies every institution with something that it needs – a quality life for researchers, a well-informed government, and a solid academic center able to broadcast data globally.

They also teach students, which is good because a more educated public is a better public better able to make better decisions. There’s a reason why poor education correlates with so many other poor human development indicators. I’ll say it again because Canada is thick – the act of becoming more highly educated is associated with a higher standard of human and social development. It doesn’t matter that you don’t think English majors are useful. The fact that they are educated is an a priori positive. Better for society, better for individuals, and better for our social structures as a whole. This is to some degree the logic behind free university educations.

The problem is that Canada is uninterested in knowledge, data, quality, lives, or planning a system that can take advantage of any of the above. Canada knows that the answer to her problems is buried in the ground or swimming in the ocean. This time our resource as extracted by the writhing bundle of lampreys that is the Canadian business establishment will launch us to success! Fuck your English literature and your grasp of the English language! All I need to read are the hockeymans scores!

And who suffers? The researchers and the students. The ones who actually provide the benefits of the whole system. Those are the people Canada chooses to shaft and lampoon. Not the people turning schooling into a cold noose of an industry. Not the airheaded, uninformed government and its collection of mythological Canadiana sprinkles. The ones who actually do things. Yeah. Fuck those people! Raise their tuition, lower their wages, and hire another Undersecretary for Bicylsexual Tolerance, boys!

#99 – Getting Schooled, Part Six: The Great One (Language)

English Canadians sure are proud to speak English.

Understanding multiple languages is the global norm. Africans tend to speak at least a few languages; Arabs, too, tend to educate their young in other tongues. From Japanese students desperately learning English to Europeans considering which language they wish to pursue for a third or fourth language, most of the world wants to know what the rest of the world is actually talking about. Even Americans are starting to pick up Spanish – heck, the Quebecois have been learning English for decades.

Too bad English Canada won’t join the party.

English Canada has an appalling track record with teaching French (the supposed “natural” second language of Canadians, says Ottawa). Less than half of English Canadians even want a second language, because fuck those benefits and the mobility that comes from being able to do business in different places. Bilingualism is on the rise in Quebec, with nearly half of the province speaking both French and English. Contrast this with Alberta’s amazing 6% bilingualism rate with French and English, or “bilingual by law” New Brunswick’s 33% rate of understanding both languages. Only half of English speakers in Canada are even make proud of having French in the country at all. Because if there’s anything English Canada is good for, it’s whining that people don’t love English enough.

Is learning English a good thing? Of course it is! Learning as many languages as possible is a good thing, really – the problem is that English Canada doesn’t bother with teaching in one langauge well, far less encouraging people to speak in more languages. The cultural benefits of the Cree learning their own tongue, the benefits in terms of actually having a singular national identity that could come from bothering to meet the Quebecois halfway instead of handing out conjugation tables in elementary school and then washing your hands of the French language shortly after kids learn to ask where the bathroom is – nah, those don’t matter because English Canada’s limp-dick business classes don’t want to learn another language. My French education was literally in the form of VHS tapes with English subtitles at the bottom and fucking handouts. I’m pissed because I was cheated out of a third language and English Canada seems to think that this is a good thing.

Instead of trying to learn, English Canadians whinge and wheeze and whine about French. The government of Quebec funds two highly-regarded English-speaking universities in Montreal alone; by contrast, the rest of Canada has one French university and one “bilingual” institution, both of which provide pathetic educations. Clearly the French just hate the English language and everything about it so, so much. Their tiny group of “French-language Gestapo” who make sure that the Sign Law is being followed is obviously a sign that they hate the English. Unlike the massive cultural weight and sneering that English Canada throws at French Canada – that’s just what neighbors do, eh?

#71 – Getting Schooled, Part Five: Rotting at the STEM

English Canadians believe that all of their problems would be solved if everyone was in school for the right things.

Of course, “the right things” are obvious to the simple-minded English Canadian – make more shit to drag more raw materials out of the dirt because that’s what Canada does, baby! The intellectual side of this, engineering, has been long held as the “way to get a job”. But naturally, Canadian businesses don’t want to pay for this homegrown talent, because that would be stupid! Who hires people based on competence anyways, am I right? Why hire Canadian talent when you can outsource! What do you mean, the Egyptians we dragged in did a shit job? Never mind that – keep scouring for more foreigners to work for cheap!

Meanwhile, Canada’s science grads suffer un/deremployment on par with the hated social sciences and humanities. Even engineers are starting to feel the crush – huge graduating classes with (reasonable) high demands for pay and benefits meeting Canada’s business culture of cutting costs doesn’t spell good things. In 2007, 18% of Canada’s engineers were un/deremployed or not even in the workforce. This number has only increased as graduating classes continue to surge in size and expectations. And Canada, being Canada, continues to not bother looking at how it intends to employ a huge pile of students expecting the Moon in salary after being told that they are The Chosen Ones.

See, this is the problem with un-coordinated education. A shortage of professionals in a field results in a crush of students, which our university-businesses love to see because that means tuition money – but those people graduate in a crush, meaning a scrum for a job inevitably ensues. Co-op programs provide cheap work for Canadian firms. Why hire a good student at a high rate of pay when you can use co-op temp-workers for the same job and have them rotate? We were told that we were desperate for engineers, so desperate that we just had to grab a bunch of Chinese engineers ready to work for 60% of the wages a grad would expect. And now that we have a bunch of home-grown engineers, Canada doesn’t have a clue what to do next.

What does this mean for the future? I don’t know. I’m not typing this at Delphi. But I do know that there’s a problem here (any time a field is defined in a study as “more mobile”, what it really means is “less stable”) and that the mismatching of talents to salaries in the STEM fields needs to be examined. The most recent studies on the information and communication technology market have gone undone for a decade, but the offshoring of R&D and increasing reliance on cheap labor in the Canadian business world has been continuing apace. And Canada doesn’t even look.

You know, there’s a way to hire that ~40% of natural and social scientists grads that remain underemployed or not even in their field. But knowledge doesn’t drag shit out of the ground so it clearly doesn’t matter.

#49 – Getting Schooled, Part Three: Get Stuffed, Kids!

As we’ve been going over, Canada is shitty when it comes to schooling. We’ve talked about the low quality of the material going into these institutions. We’ve talked about how professors are underpaid and subject to the perils of contract work. Now it’s time to add to this shit-kindling another peril coming to a caker university near you. In the face of falling government funding for institutions of higher learning and the increasingly-dubious value of postsecondary education, schools increasingly find themselves needing to find ways to more money. In other words, our colleges and universities are devolving into de-facto businesses, focused more on profit than on education. Oh, joy. It’s our old friend caker business.

(S) Seen here hard at work holding Canada back

Any good example of caker business simply has to involve the dislocation of peoples for the sake of profit, and in caker school this role is being filled by the international student, numbers of which are soaring in recent years. A worrying amount of university budgets now lean on the practice of government selling entry into this country in exchange for boatloads of money. Never mind the negative consequences of this cheap-ass attempt on the governments of Canada’s provinces to pass the buck on providing needed funding. Forget the fundamentally damaging impact of corporatizing education. Especially when you can do all of this while hiding behind a shield of diversity. What’s that? You don’t believe in randomly stuffing more foreign students into our schools? You must be a racist! Trump alert! Trump alert!

And of course, here’s the part where I try to piss on the right-wing moron brigade that is presently nodding along and hoping that I’ll throw some racist red meat at them. ‘Fraid that’s not going to happen. I happen to like the concept of international students a great deal, truth be told. But here’s the thing – I also like infrastructure that works, and one of the problems with treating foreigners like cash cows in the name of squeezing profits into an increasingly overcomplicated postsecondary landscape is that the basic concepts of education are forgotten. Oh, and that the education they got leaves with them, because I’m pretty sure most of them have realized after a few years how shit Canada is compared to where they came from.

I would consider the first building block to any postsecondary education to be literacy in the language of instruction. And Canada immediately fails at the gate on that one! Surprise! There’s something especially gross about the idea that Canada is prepared to sell its academic integrity so quickly that it doesn’t even bother ensuring that the ostensible student can even understand the language of so-called instruction before the caker croupier comes for their pocketbook. Then again, you, the student were probably recruited by a shady motherfucker in one of Canada’s favorite industries: shady, barely-regulated bullshit artistry.

Once you’ve been conned into coming here, caker business surely hasn’t given a shit about actually housing the influx of newly-fleeced foreigners.  But of course, there’s also that most awesome of caker business practices, drip pricing, here to fuck up the foreign student’s day! Oh, and here’s hoping you aren’t caught in a nightmare scenario where you end up hiding from Border Security in a Regina church! And since you are basically a fiscal piñata to school administration you won’t get a real education anyways, since you won’t be allowed to fail. And if you even wanted to stay in this dumpster fire of a country, good fucking luck!

And those are a smattering of the perils of the international student, fiscal crutch and victim of caker business and its unending quest to berid itself of responsibility by crushing the dreams and hopes of others.