Preferential Hiring

January 2006

Liberalism In Its Death Throes

Re: White Males Need Not Apply,

Nov. 19; Ottawa Rescinds Hiring Ban On able-Bodied White Men, Nov. 22

In your coverage of the edict circulated in the federal Public Works and Government Services Department temporarily banning the hiring of able-bodied white males, it was reported that “even a federal civil service union that strongly supports employment equity questioned the wisdom of the policy.” However, Nicole Turmel, the spokeswoman for the union in question, cites the possibility of a “backlash against equity groups” as the sole reason for her unease. Indeed, the government’s determination to avoid such a reaction is given as the main reason for its subsequent decision to rescind the policy.

This would be low comedy if not for the terrible moral muddle it betrays. For Ms. Turmel and the government, the victims in this affair are not those who, on biological grounds, are denied fair consideration for employment, but those members of “designated” groups whose advancement the state is eager to engineer at the expense of others.

Columnist George Jonas recently remarked that it is not conservatism in Canada that is in its death throes, but liberalism. Continued indifference to individual achievement, weary obsession with quotas and blood, and debased conceptions of “culture” only support his perceptive claim.

John E. MacKinnon, Department of Philosophy, Saint Mary’s University, Halifax. Professor MacKinnon is a SAFS member.

Globe & Mail, Friday, Nov. 25, 2005.

French Report Rejects Introduction Of ‘Positive Discrimination’ In Hiring

Helene Fontanaud

A report drawn up for the French government yesterday rejected calls for “positive discrimination” to help minorities find jobs, while lawmakers approved planed to install more video-cameras in public places.

In the wake of three weeks of rioting in France’s disadvantaged suburbs, the High Council on Integration said positive discrimination or setting quotas for hiring minorities has no place in a state built on the belief everyone should have equal opportunities.

“The worst result of the current crisis… would be to succumb to the temptation to do away with the Republican promise of equal rights and opportunity in place of positive discrimination and ethnic and communal policies,” said the report by a panel of academics and cultural figures.

The study was delivered to Prime Minister Dominique do Villepin, who opposes affirmative action, as does Jacques Chirac, the French President.

Against them is Nicolas Sarkozy, the Interior Minister and Mr. de Villepin’s rival to lead the centre-right into the 2007 presidential election.

The report’s conclusions were widely interpreted as a defeat for Mr. Sarkozy, who is determined to win backing for positive discrimination – and is unlikely to give up.

“I challenge the idea the we all start at the same starting line in life,” he said this month. “Some people start further back because they have a handicap – colour, culture or the district they come from. So we have to help them.”

Globe & Mail, Friday, Nov. 25, 2005, A.17.

Update: CRC Human Rights Complaint Proceeding

Clive Seligman, SAFS President

According to a report in the December, 2005 CAUT Bulletin (p. A9), the Canadian Human Rights Commission will convene a tribunal to hear the complaints of eight female faculty against Industry Canada, which is responsible for the Canada Research Chairs program. The complainants (see previous stories in the SAFS Newsletter, April 2004, p.1 and January 2005, p.1) argue that there was systemic discrimination in the awarding of the CRC chairs against women, aboriginal people, people with disability and visible minorities. Mediation has failed. The next step is to begin hearings where both sides can also call witnesses.