When Stephen Harper took office ten years ago, I had a good job editing a medical publication. My husband, Scott, had taken an early pension from the CBC and set up a little video production company which made videos for associations.
We weren’t rich, but we were comfortable.
Then came a series of unfortunate incidents that turned our world upside down.
Thanks to a downturn in pharmaceutical advertising, my job disappeared. Thanks to the digital revolution, which gave every teenager a video camera, my husband’s video business collapsed. And all this occurred while we were trying to help my adult children pay for their education.
I’m no stranger to change; in fact, I have always loved change and challenges. But none of us were prepared for what this decade had to offer us. Today, I am doing exactly the same job as I did ten years ago. Then, I made $50,000 to edit one publication. Today, I edit five and I make $9,000 a year. I top that income up with piece work from the book industry, editing 200 page manuscripts for $200 each.
My once lucrative sideline, writing for the government, well, that door closed long ago. Little people like me used to be able to get writing and editing jobs directly from the departments; today we have to go through agencies who take a third up front for printing resumes.
That’s right, MaxSys — pimp that job.
The rules for working for Stephen Harper’s government have left many people like me out in the cold. Mandatory requirements have meant I must be bilingual, possess a master’s degree and have an incorporated business. They don’t seem to care if I can spell.
Let’s just say, at age 59, I don’t have the time or money to up my qualifications.
Scott gave up his once lucrative video business altogether. That very expensive equipment is sitting in a repair shop someplace because he can’t afford to fix it. Meanwhile, he is expected to do the same work he once did for $35 an hour for minimum age.
So now, he sells Subarus to rich people.
Despite that very expensive education, my eldest son is still living in the basement — with his girlfriend. They are collecting employment insurance — $200 a week — because they lost their McJobs at Target.
There is nothing in the much-lauded Economic Action Plan for any of us.
Nick’s girlfriend had hoped for retraining. She found out she has to wait six months to qualify for a six-week course someplace. Turns out retraining is a joke.
Nick’s prospect aren’t much better. After handing out a hundred resumes his only prospect is a faint hope return to Walmart.
I don’t think we are atypical. There are many adults who are helping to support their children and trying to figure out how to transition from their good paying jobs, which are disappearing rapidly thanks to globalization, to part-time jobs which pay minimum wage.
Stephen Harper’s idea of help was to fan the flames of despair by allowing companies like McDonald’s to bring in foreign workers to flip burgers. He has no strategy, to my knowledge to help Canadians deal with the impact of global competition and technological change.
Canadians are no longer making the phones and widgets, they are selling them at kiosks in the mall.
Blackberry, once the symbol of possibility and potential, is now something you bake in a pie.
The Tories have done a lousy job at helping Canadians adapt to the new economy. Instead, they have been preoccupied with scandals, handing out tax credits for hockey equipment and creating the phenomenon of Christmas in July. Income splitting and tax credits don’t do much good when there’s no income, right?
Stephen Harper Slum Lord
Meanwhile, Stephen Harper has done what all leaders do when they’ve been in office too long. When he isn’t swatting away opposition questions about the Senate, Harper is leaving on a jet plane destined anywhere.
He’s been missing in action for some time now.
And he’s playing dodgeball with the media.
The only upside of this very expensive election is that now that Harper has his boots on terra firma, we can finally get some answers.
It’s okay; Steve’s got it.
Stand down Paul Callandra.