Reform Conservative MP Gerald Keddy got into trouble this week after referring to the unemployed and homeless as "no-good bastards". He made a weak apology and the whole thing, like everything else, was being swept under the rug.
But then former Reform MP Monte Solberg, who now fancies himself a journalist, had to weigh in on the subject. He used to be the (un) employment minister and believes himself to be an expert.
However, all he managed to do was remind us of the ideology of the Reformers, who believe that if you are down on your luck, it's your own fault. And he even insulted the people of Prince Edward Island in the process: “When I was minister of immigration I was stunned by the fact that even though the unemployment rate was over 10 per cent in Prince Edward Island, fish plants there had to bring in Russian workers because they couldn't find local workers,” he writes. “It seems EI paid enough that, in a very narrow sense, it was completely rational that unemployed Islanders would refuse to do those very tough and dirty jobs.”
But as one reader noted: "It's not that EI pays too much. It's that the work pays bad, is of short duration, and not where most of the unemployed are. Would you move your family from their home of xxx years just to work a job hours away for crap pay for three months? And, um, RECESSION! This just shows why people like Solberg can't handle these portfolios. Too wrapped up in ideology and ignorance."
It's often not that they won't do the job, but can't afford to do the job. Maybe that's what the government should be looking at. If there are positions a distance from where unemployment has hit the hardest, then subsidize the workers. Issue funds to pay for their gas and top up the salary to a livable wage. It's not feasible for people with families to travel a great distance for minimum wage.
Solberg only managed to make a bad situation worse.
Solberg defends Keddy’s 'no-good bastards' remark
Novemebr 27, 2009
Two years ago, Monte Solberg was the Conservative minister in charge of Canada’s unemployment programs. Now, he’s an occasional columnist for the Sun Media newspaper chain.
Today he comes to the defense of his former colleague, Gerald Keddy, who apologized this week for referring to people in Halifax who choose the streets over available jobs as “no-good bastards.”
The Halifax Chronicle Herald’s Ottawa-based reporter, Stephen Maher, who wrote the original story, now reports that NDP leader Jack Layton is visiting Halifax homeless shelters today in a bid to capitalize on the controversy.
But Mr. Solberg said Mr. Keddy is being treated unfairly. He said the media interviewed disabled street people for their reaction, when Mr. Keddy’s comments were directed at people who are able to work.
“When I was minister of immigration I was stunned by the fact that even though the unemployment rate was over 10 per cent in Prince Edward Island, fish plants there had to bring in Russian workers because they couldn't find local workers,” he writes. “It seems EI paid enough that, in a very narrow sense, it was completely rational that unemployed Islanders would refuse to do those very tough and dirty jobs.”
Mr. Solberg writes that the EI program is so poorly designed that it discourages people from working. (what a horrible thing to say)
“Keddy may have rudely misrepresented the parentage of those who refuse to take jobs on Christmas tree farms, but if you believe it is wrong to cause unemployment and to take money you're not entitled to then Gerald Keddy is absolutely justified in his anger.”