Life is Belief & Struggle - Ahmed Shawqi

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Kol Hakavod Evgeny Kissin or International Renown Pianist Takes a Stand.

I read constantly of the strides being made every day in the BDS movement against Israel. It just seems like the list only continues to grow, and grow.  There seems to be no shortage of those whose biggest heart's desire is to flagellate the Israel state into oblivion.

But every once and awhile someone comes along and takes a very public stand, and I stand humbled and in awe. It may be an act lighting just one candle against the gathering of night, but oh, what a light it gives.

Internationally renown pianist Evgeny Kissin recently took Israeli citizenship and issued this statement via Tom Gross carries a copy of Kissin's statement,
“I am a Jew, Israel is a Jewish state – and since long ago I have felt that Israel, although I do not live there, is the only state in the world with which I can fully identify myself, whose case, problems, tragedies and very destiny I perceive to be mine.

“If I, as a human being and artist represent anything in the world, it is my Jewish people, and therefore Israel is the only state on our planet which I want to represent with my art and all my public activities, no matter where I live.

“When Israel’s enemies try to disrupt concerts of the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra or the Jerusalem Quartet, I want them to come and make troubles at my concerts, too: because Israel’s case is my case, Israel’s enemies are my enemies, and I do not want to be spared of the troubles which Israeli musicians encounter when they represent the Jewish State beyond its borders.

“I have always deeply despised chauvinism and have never regarded my people to be superior to other peoples; I feel truly blessed that my profession is probably the most international one in the world, that I play music created by great composers of different countries, that I travel all over the world and share my beloved music with people of different countries and nationalities – but I want all the people who appreciate my art to know that I am a Jew, that I belong to the People of Israel. That’s why now I feel a natural desire to travel around the world with an Israeli passport.”

Best case for aliyah I have heard for a while.

Monday, June 3, 2013

Imagine: what the world needs most...

To celebrate the 50th anniversary of Burger King in Puetro Rico; Burger King was offering a hands-free whopper holder.

I showed this to my son – he wants one. I emailed my Sabra who is waiting patiently in Paris for his flight home. He told me to get one for him to hold shawarma. I emailed back Burger King does not sell shawarma…now he feels hard-done-by.

I feel like I woke up on the planet Mars.

A senior Toronto Star journalist actually wrote a column demanding an immigration freeze.  

I had to read it three times, and then,  pinch myself.  

For a long time, I have been looking for a compelling case for continuing to accept immigrants into this country, but with all the new realities brought on by globalization, outsourcing and high unemployment; the old boiler-plate positive gains immigrants traditionally brought to this country are no longer offset but the cost of their assimilation. Canada now is a very diverse place, and quite frankly, we need to tend and nurture our own garden. 

And if we don’t, we are in real danger of ending with with Swedish Nights.

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Only in Canada

My Sabra is back in Israel and called me on Skype and asked me what he has missed.  I was telling him about the Rob Ford crack scandal. My Sabra just could not get his head around the fact that the mayor would choose to willingly smoke crack with Somalians. Twenty years in this country and he has yet to understand the subtleties of being Canadian, Then it struck me just how quintessential Canadian this story is – in an ‘only in Canada’ type way.

What other ‘wasp’ mayor in any North American – or even European city – would allegedly be caught on tape smoking crack with street level  Somalian drug dealers?  Even former Washington Mayor Marion Berry did not smoke crack with Somalians.

And only Canadian Somalian crack dealers would think they could hawk a video of the mayor of Toronto getting his jones on and think it’s worth $100-200,000.00.  Obama – Rob Ford is not but obviously you cannot tell that to Somalians who think they have struck gold.

You know who should be pissed off – besides Ford? The Jamaican drug dealers in Toronto. For decades it has been alleged that Jamaican posses have run the street level crack trade but the mayor chose to boycott them and hang with the Somalians.

 If I was a Jamaican, wait – I have Jamaican citizenship – let me rephrase this – if I were a Jamaican crack dealer I would be feeling pretty smug and  downright vindictive about now.  There is no way a Jamaican would ever be caught on taping the mayor getting his fix on as Jamaican drug dealers do not do video.

Friday, May 17, 2013


Tupac's song Changes might not have gotten the part about not being ready for a black president (that is a matter still up for debate) but he was almost downright prophetic about black and white smoking crack together part....

The Toronto Star.

“Ridiculous” is how Mayor Rob Ford is describing allegations that he is on video appearing to smoke crack cocaine and making slurs against Justin Trudeau and his football players.Ford emerged from his Etobicoke home at about 9:50 a.m. Friday and made his first public comments since two Toronto Star reporters wrote that they were shown the video by Somali men involved in the drug trade.
Skippy provides the background.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Economic Treason -Part 2

In the fall of 2008 I was writing about the pitfalls of bail-outsand the Royal Bank outsourcing – all of which goes to show there is nothing new under the sun...which probably explains why this Toronto Star editoral misses one salient and important point in calling for a review of the Temporary Foreign Workers program - and I quote. 

As a private company, RBC has the right to outsource work and deal with any ensuing fallout for giving Canadian jobs to lower-paid workers overseas. (Toronto Star)
Really now.  Just how ‘private’ is the Royal Bank of Canada?  All the Canadian banks have been coddled, feed and protected by government legislation from foreign competition for decades, and  in the last 5 years; the Royal Bank (like other Canadian Banks) have suckled the $114 Billion from the public teat to ensure the financial prosperity of those very banks which are currently outsourcing Canadian jobs to foreign countries. 

(graphic shamelessly stolen from Blazing Catfur)

If I were the Prime Minister of Canada and channeling my inner Maggie Thatcher I would order my Minister of Human Resources to do the following without wobbling. 

1.    1.    Immediately cancel all foreign worker and visa permits by companies whose business is to outsource labour from Canada or import cheap foreign labour into Canada.  There is simply no need for any consulting firm, such as iGate or the Tata Consulting Group, to import any to worker under a TFW permit to work for them in Canada. You can conduct business here, but you must hire Canadian workers for your Canada operations.

2. Any company which has laid- off workers in the last 24 month period is simply ineligible to hire anyone through the TFW program.

3. Any business which takes public funds or is protected from competition via government regulation is not allowed to hire anyone under a TFW program or allowed to ‘outsource’ their business operations outside of Canada in order to conduct business in Canada. In this way, IBM Canada cannot use IBM India to conduct business operations in Canada. IBM is welcome to build up their business in India for Indians but it cannot build prosperity for IBM India from the pockets or on the backs of Canadians.

4. Any firm which relies on no or low skilled workers is completely ineligible to hire anyone under a TFW permit with the exception of migrants in agricultural farming.  There is simply no excuse for Tim Horton's Bell and McDonald's to not hire local workers.  

5. Any business entity which hires a skilled foreign worker must prove there was no Canadian willing to fulfill the position after a six month national search and pay a TFW a salar;y 20% higher than the prevailing Canadian labour market rate for a similar job in their area. Furthermore, each employers must pay for extensive health care coverage and benefits for a TFW employee.

6. To be eligible to hire any skilled foreign worker under a TFW permit a company must prove there is already an in-house apprenticeship or training program in place for training locals for such skills.

7. Any Canadian corporation who has business operations outside of Canada must pay a supplemental corporate tax rate based on the percentage of its business interests currently operating outside of the country which directly contributes to its functioning as a business entity in Canada. 

For example, Bell Canada has moved its' Canadian call centers and billing operations to the Philippines. Let us pretend Call Centres and the Accounts Receivable department of Bell Canada makes up 17% of Bell's total workforce operations; so consequently, Bell Canada needs to pay an additional 17% surtax on corporate earned income in Canada. Don’t want to pay a 17% surtax – hire Canadian and keep your operations in Canada for Canadians. 

8. I realize that Stephen Harper has spent a great of time and money to sign free trade deals with everyone and their grandmother, but to safeguard Canadian industries;  let’s add an employee surtax for every good or service which needs to be imported into to Canada…I realize the Free Traders will be howling but there is no such thing as free trade with countries whose governments subsidize their industries and workers – think China.

All of which is all well and good – except the Prime Minister Stephen Harper will not any such actions because his government has been far too busy promoting the prosperity of foreign workers in the interests of his corporate crones to concern himself over the prosperity ordinary  Canadians….and I quote  -

Canada announced it would spend $15.5 million over four years to support job training of young people in the Philippines as well as help streamline the regulations around infrastructure projects. (the National Post)
While $15.5 Million over four years for job training of young people in the Philippines might not seem to buy a great deal of bang for your buck in Canada; this is huge money for the Philippines  - who incidentally just happen to benefit extraordinarily from the Temporary Foreign Workers program.  

But more importantly, ask yourself; why a Canadian Prime Minister is financially supporting the employment aspirations of non-Canadian young people during one of the most serious economic crisis Canada has faced since the Great Depression? And it is under this same Prime Minister’s watch that the Temporary Foreign Workers program has expanded just so damned dramatically.

I may have had to give back my Capitalist decoder ring and I have a number of people accusing me of being a liberal because I am firmly in the ‘anti-Harperite’ camp but it is my belief that there is nothing conservative about the Harperites other than their name.  In my defense, I can say at least I am not a liberal progressive and have to wrestle with progressive ‘values’ or feel conflicted by opting to choose the welfare of my fellow compatriots over all else.    

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Economic Treason

Last week, the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation reported that RBC — iGate's second-largest client contributing a little over 10% of its $1.1 billion sales — was planning to fire close to 50 employees in its investor services department and replace them with Indian employees on contract with iGate. It is typical for Indian IT services companies to send their staff to client locations on contract, while it puts in place processes to transition work to be done from India or other lower cost locations.

 “We work very hard as an institution to ensure that we put a very high priority on Canadian jobs,” Mr. Nixon said on a CBC morning radio show in Toronto."

  Gord Nixon, RBC President and CEO, opening the first office of the Royal Bankof Canada in India at Bandra Kurla, Mumbai.
The Harperite government of Canada has poured money - a great deal of money – CANADIAN (and NOT INDIAN) taxpayer moneyto keep thebig Five Banks in Canada a float and able to turn profits reaching in manycases into billions since the ongoing financial crisis of 2008 in Canada.

Furthermore, banks in Canada are a fully protected species. The Big Five Banks in Canada are underwritten by the federal government and are nurtured and sheltered from foreign competition by federal legislation.
Canadian banks function and exist purely to serve the financial needs of Canadians.   

Given the banking relationship with the government and people of Canada – do not for a minute deceive yourself into believing a single position/job and/or service for any operation or any department in a Canadian bank should be outsourced to anyone other than Canadian labour located and performed on Canadian soil.