Open letter to MP Ryan Leef:
On July 27, you penned a letter to the Yukon News lauding Stephen Harper’s efforts to “set the next generation up for success.” As a somewhat youthful 27-year-old, my question to you is: How does your government define “success” for young Canadians?
Are we successful when we get a full-time job?
This spring, Finance Minister Jim Flaherty was quoted as saying, “There are no bad jobs.” Don’t get me wrong: having a job is a good thing. We all need to make a living.
To this end, your government’s recent investment in Canada’s Youth Employment Strategy is appreciated. But would you consider a trained architect or accountant to be “successful” when they get full-time work as a barrista or dishwasher?
In case you didn’t notice, full-time work isn’t what it used to be. Thanks to the Harper government’s unprecedented attacks on workers’ rights and unemployment benefits, my generation will not have the same job security that our parents did.
Worse, by increasing the age at which we can access Old Age Security from 65 to 67, your government has made it harder for us to retire.
So, if I understand you correctly: Harper is supporting young Canadians by helping us to work jobs we don’t want, without the security we used to have, for longer than we want to?
That can’t be right. Maybe I’ve got it all wrong. Are you instead defining success, as you mention in your letter, by the degree to which young Canadians align their job-skills with the needs of our economy?
This seems logical: if there is high demand for a particular type of work, it helps to get more training or experience in that area. But how will young Canadians fare when most of the jobs being created by the Harper government – notably in the oil and gas sector – are unsustainable?
Building an economy based primarily on resource-extractive industries (and refusing to take real action to reduce emissions) is setting up our generation for potentially disastrous climate change. But this is also a myopic approach from a strictly economic perspective; in case you failed to notice, the rest of the global economy is diversifying away from these resources.
Germany, the country you cite in your letter as the world’s leading example of youth employment, has created hundreds of thousands of new jobs by investing in renewable energy technology. In contrast, the Harper government ranks last among its G8 counterparts on clean-energy investment, but still gives $1.4 billion dollars to Canada’s oil industry every year.
So, according to this logic: Harper is helping Canada’s youth by creating jobs in an industry that is harmful to our future, so we can get training and experience that other countries are making obsolete?
As much as I appreciate everything that you and Mr. Harper are doing to “set the next generation up for success,” I can’t help but feel that Canada’s youth are better off without your help.