Crawl Across the Ocean

Thursday, December 07, 2006

This and That


Via Idealistic Pragmatist, Terry Glavin has an article in the Tyee which basically asks, now that the Liberals have a leader who makes a big deal about the environment and is generally fairly progressive on social issues, why should anyone vote NDP.


Meanwhile, in the Globe and Mail today, Konrad Yakabuski seems to argue* that Canadian pork processors should bust their unions so that they can hire illegal immigrants and pay them peanuts with no benefits, so that they can compete with U.S. producers.

Think I'm exaggerating? From the column:
"Workers at the world's biggest hog-processing plant in Tar Heel, N.C., staged a two-day walkout last month to protest a seemingly routine request made by their employer. Smithfield Foods Inc. sought to verify the immigration status of the 5,500 employees at the plant that slaughters and slices up more than 200,000 pigs a week.

Of course, Smithfield -- a global pork powerhouse that processes almost as many pigs each year as the entire Canadian industry -- was only acting to pre-empt a raid by U.S. immigration authorities. About half of the Tar Heel plant's workers are Latino and almost 600 turned out to have improper documents or none at all. Smithfield fired 50 people on the spot. Hence, the walkout organized by the United Food and Commercial Workers union, which has been trying, unsuccessfully, to sign up the Smithfield workers.

That's right. Tar Heel, like most U.S. meat processing plants, is a non-union operation that counts on the kinds of workers CNN host Lou Dobbs thinks are killing the U.S. economy. In fact, they may be saving it -- or at least saving it from Canadian competition.

How else can you explain the blood being left on the floor of Canada's previously plump and rosy pig processing industry?"


"The sad fact is that Canada's pig industry can't compete against U.S. processors who rely on factory-farm operations and immigrant labour that remains willing to work for paltry wages and near-zero benefits. The result is that the U.S. overtook Canada as the world's biggest pork exporter last year, squeezing Maple Leaf and Olymel out of markets they previously dominated in Japan.

Canada's pig processors let an undervalued dollar lull them into becoming Porky when Speedy Gonzales should have been their role model."

* Was initially written as "Yakabuski argues," not "seems to argue" in the original version of the post but was updated (Dec 13, 2006) to reflect his assertion that he was not in fact making this argument. Most of the relevant parts of the column are in this post so you can judge for yourself the impression it leaves.


  • Someone has been very active this week in blogging. You'll hear no complaints from me.

    I enjoyed that article in the Globe about the pig farming.

    By Blogger Bailey, at 8:55 PM  

  • Declan--

    Why wouldn't peeling off dipper votes be the stratergy of the Big RedDion Machine.

    After all, it's not like the CPC base numbers (ie. low thirties) have changed that much in the last couple of years.

    By Blogger Gazetteer, at 12:51 AM  

  • Bailey - Enjoy it while it lasts, with Christmas coming, things will probably slow down again soon.

    Gazetteer - I'm sure that is the strategy (or at least part of it, I suspect they can get some votes back from th Conservatives in Quebec/Ontario). I certainly didn't intend to suggest that it wasn't.

    By Blogger Declan, at 2:48 PM  

  • I tend to associate with the NDP, and I find Dion trustworthy, competent, and progressive enough that I might vote for him. All depends on what candidates run in my riding.

    Really, I'd take almost anything to replace the chowderhead who's been 'representing' my riding since 1993.

    By Anonymous Famousringo, at 12:29 AM  

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