Keeping it Real…

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Brexit Chaos: Blame Minority Government

April 1st, 2019 · 42 Comments

I may have been wrong.  Readers of this blog will know I have on occasion sung the praises of minority governments as a way of preventing/mitigating the dangers of one party … or one leader … having dictatorial powers under majority rule.

Theoretically, that still holds true. However, add human dynamics to the mix … pride, greed, selfishness, blind ideology and a willingness to blackmail to extort concessions … and the reality can fall well short of the benefits.

Take Britain as an example.

The UK is in turmoil politically … and while much is being discussed, debated, dissected and devoured politically … what is NOT getting enough attention is the terrible ECONOMIC costs/impact Brexit has already had and is still having on Britain’s economy.

The nation’s Gross Domestic Product has DROPPED 2.4% since the LEAVE vote topped the referendum in 2016.   The Bank of England’s CEO (Canadian) Mark Carney has estimated the loss to Britain’s economy so far at 40 Billion Pounds ($70 Billion Cad).

The Institute for Fiscal Studies calculated the net COST of being IN the European Union hit Britain for 8 Billion Pounds ($14 Billion Cad) over five years. That’s 0.4% of the national income.

However, it says the net LOSS to the British economy, in reduced investment and economic growth, for being OUT will top 70 Billion Pounds ($120 Billion Cad) over five years.

Of course, nations do not …and need not …always operate based solely on a fiscal basis.

Many Brits … and having visited the country many times, I get it … felt they were losing control of their society, their culture, their borders, their nation … being “governed”, even dictated to,  by Europeans based in Brussels.

So the people spoke … and more voted to LEAVE than to remain.

And now …let’s keep it real … THEIR WILL IS BEING DENIED … by the very politicians they elected to carry out their will.

Why?

Because too many politicians in Britain (England, Wales, Scotland, Northern Ireland) OPPOSE the people’s decision,  think THEY know better than their voters, and are doing anything and everything to avoid carrying out the referendum’s result.

How do they get away with it?

Because Britain is governed by …. not just a minority government …. but among the worst kind of minority government formulations I warned about when British Columbians were considering/debating our own referendum on proportional representation.

You can read what I wrote about that here: http://harveyoberfeld.ca/blog/no-to-proportional-chaos-blackmail-theres-a-better-solution/

Take a look at the similarities now paralysing Britain  …

There are 650 seats in the British House of Commons; majority government starts at 326.  

The Conservatives fell short, with 314; Labour hold 245; Scottish National Party 35; Liberal Democrats 11; Change UK 11; Democratic Unionists (Northern Ireland) 10; Sinn Fein 7; Plaid Cymru 4; Greens 1; and Independents 10.

And without a majority, there could be no Whip system to ensure government-proposed legislation passed.

A true recipe and formula for CHAOS … based on political, regional, ethnic even racial/religious divisions, beliefs, selfish interest and goals.

That’s why not only did Prime Minister Theresa May’s negotiated agreement not pass; neither did cold Brexit; nor a call to stay; nor a new customs union; nor another referendum …. none of eight different proposals could be agreed upon.

Britain is in turmoil; the impact on jobs and trade could bring the country to its knees … with no deal … within the next five years.

And I have no doubt that with NO deal … the EU will crack down HARD on Brits travelling across the Channel … making them go through all those questions the rest of us face (Passport? Nature of your visit? How long will you be here? How much money do you have? Where will you be staying?). Not fun for the millions of people who right now just breeze right through in a special “EU” lane … with no questions!

And just imagine the paperwork/tariffs/increased time and costs etc. commercial traffic going each way will face.

And the politicians know that … so barring a new election call … something MUST give.

Soon!

But the lesson of such a terrible failed minority government situation should make British Columbians breathe a sigh of relief that WE avoided the very multi-party scenario I warned against just months ago.

Harv Oberfeld

→ 42 CommentsTags: British Columbia · International · National

Immigration: US Loss is Canada’s Gain

March 25th, 2019 · 51 Comments

US President Donald Trump’s racism, his hateful Tweets, his intolerant statements, his administration’s anti-immigration and isolationist policies, his Republican colleagues’ complicity or silence and his supporters’ loud xenophobia have ALL been duly noted by the world … and CANADA has now gained from it.

In 2018, OUR country saw its biggest gain in immigration since 1913 ….. just before World War I ….  more than 100 years ago!

Statistics Canada report 321,065 people CHOSE Canada as their new home last year.

And NO, they are not mostly refugees, illegal migrants or even family reunification qualifiers.

In fact, only 44,000 of the total are categorized as refugees, or admitted on humanitarian and/or compassionate grounds. (The figures do NOT include people who crossed the border illegally and whose cases are awaiting adjudication.)

The vast bulk are educated, ambitious and seeking new opportunities for their careers and their families … in a safe, welcoming, tolerant well-performing society and Canada is where they WANT to be and grow.

Bravo!

And the 321,065 (I’m being very specific, because EVERY SINGLE ONE OF THEM, counts) when added to our own net population growth, brought Canada’s TOTAL increase in 2018 to more than 500,000 … for the first time since the late 1950s.

That’s very important …as other countries struggle to maintain or even stem the decline of their working-age long-term economically contributing base. They will not just be employees doing the work … as more and more of the rest of us age, retire and live longer …. drawing pensions and enjoying our leisure years with pretty good health coverage, social service programs etc.

So where are these new Canadians come from?

The top five sources, identified in 2017 statistics, were: India (27,000); Philippines (20,000); China (15,000); Syria (7,000); and the USA (4,800).

As I’ve written before, I’d like to see that American figure grow a lot more and believe Canada should target professionals who want to escape the gun-culture violence, tribalism and just plain growing xenophobia of American society.

In fact, part of Canada’s growth as educated immigrants’ choice owes itself to those kinds of people.

Read this from the high-tech website Recode.net. :

“US companies are going to keep hiring foreign tech workers, even as the Trump administration makes doing so more difficult. For a number of US companies that means expanding their operations in Canada, where hiring foreign nationals is much easier.”

And Trump’s policies are taking a toll in the US.

“Recent immigration data shows the US is issuing fewer total visas to these types of workers than in previous years. This is a result of an executive order Trump issued in 2017 to review the H-1B process and make good on his pledge to “Hire American.”…. the article noted.

The result? 

According to a recent corporate-based survey, 63% of US high tech companies are increasing their operations in Canada where “immigration policies are more favorable”.

(You can read the entire fascinating Recode article here: https://www.recode.net/2019/3/19/18264391/us-tech-jobs-canada-immigration-policies-trump )

The good news for Canada is that Trump’s xenophobic rants and actions will likely increase over the next year as he ramps up his attempts to bolster and even increase his base support for the 2020 US election.

Canada should INCREASE our efforts to attract more educated, skilled workers and companies … to continue our growth in population and popularity … so that US’s loss remains Canada’s gain.

Harv Oberfeld

(Follow @harveyoberfeld on Twitter to get First Alerts of all new postings on my blog.)

→ 51 CommentsTags: British Columbia · International · National