Tuesday, 22 January 2013
Letter to the Editor
Just sent the following letter to the Globe and Mail. Don't care that it's too long and too angry, just hope somebody reads it.
As a young, educated, liberal-minded Prince Edward Islander, I know well enough by now I ought to steer clear of Margaret Wente's articles. I experience her contempt for all of those components of my identity every time I struggle through one of her pieces. Today's commentary was a little different, somehow; I am used to middle-aged writers in center-right publications writing condescending pieces about how entitled and lazy young university grads are. I am even used to, at the ripe age of 23, politicians looking for ways to euphemise or step around Atlantic Canada's perennially sluggish, precarious social and economic situation. But I will never get used to out-of-region, out-of-touch armchair journalists offering criticism of Atlantic Canada's people, nor our persistent efforts to cope with our hardships.
In fairness, some elements of this article aren't completely off the mark. Atlantic Canada disproportionately uses EI funds. Some workers abuse the system, and it becomes habitual, perhaps even encouraged. However, Atlantic Canadians also participate in a different sort of "transfer": we migrate to high-employment areas, in shocking numbers, and leave families and friends behind. The East Coast's young and bright head up and out to Alberta, British Columbia, and elsewhere, in an ongoing 'brain drain' to find work. And you thought we weren't up for commuting. For combating oil town labour shortages, you're welcome.
I can criticize our provincial policies and politics as much as I want because I'm here, I understand them, and in the end I want what is best for my province and its citizens. When someone like Ms Wente offers her opinion, which is entirely unhelpful, callous, and distasteful, I cringe. It is an ignorant suggestion that Ms Giersdorf give away a considerable chunk of her day's earnings to commute for nearly two hours per day, plus additional child-care expenses, taxes and - the irony - employment insurance, because the take-home pay would be pitiful. I know, because I'm underemployed as well, like so many who make up my province's labour force.
Every day, people try to figure out 'the answer' to solving Atlantic Canada's work woes. Editorials like this are not part of this effort, and never will be. (Unless you fire Wente and have her move to Montague, then she might have something of worth to write.)
PS. Most of your readers would likely have expected Ms Wente to be seeking EI after last year - maybe she should hold back a little on others whose employers aren't so understanding.