Jan 12-17, 2003: Need for skilled workers

January 19, 2003

Ms. L. Haeber
Executive Producer
Information Programming
CBC Radio

Dear Ms. Haeber:

Here are some comments on items broadcast on CBC recently. The first is a comment on a national item that was aired on Sunday, January 12. The other is a comment on a local (Vancouver0 item that aired on The Afternoon Show on Monday, January 6.

(1) The national item appeared on The Sunday Edition. It was a documentary done by Karen Wells and looked at two Filipino nurses who are working in Flin Flon, Manitoba. The nurses had gone to Flin Flon to fill two nursing vacancies and, as part of an immigration agreement, were required to stay there for one year. The same agreement required them to remain in Manitoba for two years.

The documentary began with the recently-coined statement that Canada would need one million new skilled workers in the next ten years.

(2) The general point is that Ms. Wells did not check the accuracy of the “need for skilled workers” statement. In fact, like many of her CBC colleagues, she chose merely to repeat a statement that Canada’s Minister of Immigration has made. When asked to provide the evidence for such a figure, he and his department have been unable to produce anything substantial.

As the Economic Council of Canada stated in their landmark
study around 1990, it is almost impossible to predict major labour
surpluses and shortages, yet the present Minister of Immigration makes such statements–defying his government’s own research.

As another major federal study showed, Canada’s 135-year immigration history shows that the country’s immigration policy has been based on absorptive capacity. Only in the past dozen years or so has Canada abandoned the “absorptive capacity” theme.

Canada’s Ministers of Immigration should be aware that their own
research tells them this. If our present minister tries to tell Canadians that it is possible to make such predictions and that Canada has entered a historical period in which “absorptive capacity” is irrelevant (for example, the employment needs of six and one-half million Canadians of the baby boom echo who will enter Canada’s labour force in the next ten years), his statements should be questioned, not repeated as if they were gospel.

As any conscious observer of immigration knows, Canada’s immigration minister works hand in glove with Canada’s immigration industry. (For evidence of this, I challenge any member of the media to attend a public meeting of the House of Commons Standing Committee on Immigration. As anyone will soon see, “Standing” is a strange word for a group on its hands
and knees lookng for electoral support.)

This close connection between the minister and the immigration industry is an even greater reason why the media should be skeptical of the minister’s statements. When the media merely parrot what they have heard, they become mere propaganda dispensers.

On the immigration issue, the CBC continues to be a propaganda arm for the minister and Canada’s immigration industry. Ms. Wells is in need of a journalism refresher course in checking one’s sources. Any offers from journalism schools in her area?

(3) The second item aired on Monday, January 6. It concerned large numbers of people lining up at the Canadian-American border to claim refugee status in Canada because their previous claims in the U.S. were rejected or were in danger of being rejected. The Host interviewed a UBC professor (a Muslim who was speaking on behalf of the refugee claimants, many of whom are Muslims).

Once again, under the guise of generosity, the Host and her guest
avoided any of the reality of the entire refugee issue—the most important point of which is that people like those lining up at the border do not meet the requirements of the definition of refugees and absorb hundreds of millions of dollars in legal, health and welfare costs that could be going to real refugees who languish in refugee camps around the world.

(4) The Host followed this interview with a ten-minute excerpt from a CBC Television documentary on the Komagata Maru Incident that was to be shown that night. Once again, in the Host’s view, Canada’s immigration and refugee policy should be based on guilt—particularly limitless guilt.

No limits are ever set by the host and other guillt-mongers on how many immigrants and refugees have to be allowed in before the guilt is expiated for.

(5) If any journalism instructor wants to hear a new low in CBC
broadcasting, one in which a CBC programme deliberately makes use of
publicly-paid-for air time to broadcast the private views of a CBC host and her programme colleagues, the instructor should ask for a log of this programme. This is an example of shameless misuse of CBC time. It should merit an investigation by the office of the CBC President. Mr. Rabinovitch, this is a challenge to you!!