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No Such Thing as Good Discrimination

A while back, a researcher for a Glasgow-based television documentary program got in touch with me about a program focusing on the Scottish experience in Canada. I’m naturally helpful anyway and, best case scenario, I thought I might get to be one of the talking-heads in the documentary. To boost my chances of being invited to appear, I suggested that the film-makers use the reconstruction of the old fur trading fort here in Edmonton as a location for filming. I thought some photographs of Fort Edmonton, particularly the inside of the Factor’s House, might help the film makers decide. I called the city council in Edmonton, who run the historic site, and asked about suitable photos. The woman I was dealing with could barely speak English. She told me there were no photos. So, if the film-makers did come to Edmonton, it would be no thanks to the city council. By the way, I did find exactly the photos I suspected the council must have myself. The woman was wrong. I think the key to this was that she didn’t speak very good English. That suggests that she ticked the box on the application form identifying herself as a “visible minority”. This is basically code for non-European immigrant. The council proudly announces it welcomes applications from minority groups. It would appear that it gives jobs based on skin colour rather the ability to do the job. So-called Positive Discrimination is still discrimination. I’m against discrimination. I don’t think someone should not get a job because of their skin colour or background. But neither do I think they should get a job because of their skin colour or background. I have a simple test. Anyone who advocates positive discrimination should be told that they are going to be fired and replaced by someone hired on the basis of their skin colour or disability or whatever. I suspect the person being fired will come up with several reasons why they shouldn’t be shown the door. The reasons are precisely the same as why a well qualified job candidate would resent being denied a job because preference was given to a less able “visible minority”. Things are getting silly when someone who doesn’t speak much English is given a job answering phones. And here’s a caution to those who favour positive discrimination. One of my friends decided to give preference to female job applicants. They got together and decided they’d be happier working in an all-female office. His new colleagues, who all owed their jobs to him, conspired to either get him fired or make his life so miserable that he would resign.


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