In recent weeks anyone following the Canadian news cycle would be forgiven for thinking we live in the bygone era of apartheid South Africa. Virtually every interaction between the police and racialized minorities is being painted as racism. Protesters want you to believe that the police simply break down doors and shoot racialized people before asking questions. 

As the only racialized federal leader of a political party, NDPs Jagmeet Singh is at the forefront attacking systemic racism and using it to advance the cause and along with it his career. Last week in the House of Commons he lost no time calling Bloc MP Alain Therrien a racist for refusing to support an NDP motion dealing with systemic racism in the RCMP.  Singh tried to get all parties in the House of Commons to agree to a motion recognizing the existence of systemic racism in the RCMP.

The Bloc voted against the motion because the party was already supporting a committee’s study of racism in the RCMP and didn’t feel it was right to conclude systemic racism before the completion of the committee’s study. Fair enough.

If MP Alain Therrien was opposed to the idea of a committee studying the issue or if he denied outright the existence of racism or systemic racism in the RCMP, Jagmeet Singh would have more of a basis for concluding Therrien was racist.

But Singh pointed to a dismissive gesture Therrien made prior to voting ‘no’, that prompted such a conclusion. Really? 

Can a dismissive wave in an argument be construed as proof of racism? What next, a smirk, rolling eyes, body language? 

I believe if anyone has to be called a racist, there should be a pattern of behavior rather than simply point to one example that can easily be contested. 

Unfortunately, no one is calling out Jagmeet Singh or insisting he apologize and let it slide. His Left-wing base by his own admission would be sorely disappointed if he apologized and white politicians won’t dare weigh in on this lest they be smeared along with Therrien.

How to really help small businesses and low-wage earners

So as expected CERB (Canadian Emergency Relief Benefit) has been extended by another 8- weeks owing to popular demand and echoed politically by NDP leader Jagmeet Singh. Small businesses have greeted this bit of news with consternation as they’re worried that CERB has made it really hard for them to lure back part-time and full-time workers, mostly those making minimum wage or slightly more. 

First off, a large number of minimum wage workers are employed in the service industry like hotels, restaurants and retail, all these sectors that are labour intensive have been hit really badly. 

It is clear that thousands of small businesses will be shuttered for good and those that open can’t or won’t pay their employees much above minimum wage or even employ them full-time. Given this grim reality, it isn’t surprising that many employees are unwilling to go back to work and give up their $2,000 CERB monthly payment. 

It is also clear that meagre EI payments won’t cut it anymore, not after out-of-work Canadians have seen the real money (for some $2,000 is a windfall, believe it or not!)

So how can the government help small businesses, alleviate poverty and ensure Canadians have enough of an incentive to get up and go to work instead of being addicted to free money?

One way would be to reduce the national minimum wage to a flat $10 and pay those stuck at the bottom of the food chain an attractive top up. This way restaurants and other businesses making below a certain amount, can have the government subsidize their payroll. Small businesses who could demonstrate a genuine need for payroll subsidies could concentrate on growing a successful business while ensuring they have staff who are earning a decent wage. 

Somehow if the CERB can morph into an incentive for Canadians at the bottom of the food chain to earn more and be rewarded by the government who could then create a system whereby the CERB could be transformed into a retirement  or savings plan that could only  be assessed under certain circumstances or once they cross 65. Canadians even with good jobs are notoriously poor savers and rather than simply give Canadians money to spend, CERB can become a sort of way that Canadians can spend the money they earn while the government saves for them. Money that is theirs to access at a future date. 


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