Quotes and quotas

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Hey, everybody, it’s Wednesday — let’s have fun with words! Human Resources and Skills Development Minister Diane Finley is still in the hot seat after Quebec newspaper Le Devoir published a story showing the quotas that employment insurance investigators were supposed to reach.

As usual, the first approach was “deny, deny, deny.”

“There are no individual quotas for employees of HRSD who are looking at EI,” Finley said in the House of Commons when she was asked about the Le Devoir report.

Finley later confirmed to reporters there are “objectives” set by the department that vary “according to the area.” The work — which has performance evaluations tied to workers finding $485,000 apiece in fraudulent claims — has also been described as “targets,” and on Monday, Finley was accused of having misled the House of Commons by denying the quotas existed.

Her department describes the approach — which the CBC has reported includes unannounced home visits — as “integrity work.”

All right then. Certainly, no one wants to see the EI system being abused. The money in the fund is there to help workers who are legitimately out of work, and it should not be taken by anyone else, whether that is an ineligible individual or a federal government who simply grabs the money and uses it for its own purposes (as a former federal government did).

Then again, no one should be keen to see the English language so roundly abused either.

If workers are told they have, as part of their job, to find a certain dollar-value of EI cheats, then they have a quota. Calling it a “target” or an “objective” is mere semantics.

What, for example, does that make senators who apply for and receive benefits for a residence in Ottawa when they have a permanent residence in that fair city as well?

Whether we call them “well-meaning but form-

confused cash snorflers,” “The Honourable Mike Duffy” or the far more pejorative “legislative truffle pigs” doesn’t really matter.

It’s possible, of course, to try to pretty up almost anything using language. Why should we suffer through freezing rain, when we could have “outdoors polish”? Since all snowflakes are different, why can’t we get seven centimetres of “unique-ity flakes”? Fog? No worries — a bank of “edge-softener” or “super-fine water” might be just the thing, even if it still keeps airplanes from landing.

And why suggest that the federal minister is simply insulting the intelligence of Canadians, when it would be so much lovelier to suggest that she was merely putting the issue in the best possible light by “reality-smoothing”?

Just as layoffs get called “right-sizing,” she was merely “word-shaping” or “noun-shaving.”

She wasn’t trying to put lipstick on a pig — no, this was intensive snout modification, or “insnoutification,” perhaps.

When employees are being told their jobs are gauged by a catching a floor dollar value of cheats, we have a quota system.

In the end, it doesn’t matter what the words are. The actions speak for themselves.

Organizations: House of Commons, HRSD, CBC

Geographic location: Quebec, Ottawa

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Recent comments

  • sc
    February 27, 2013 - 22:04

    Gee, haven't all Canadians long ago given up all hope of any Conservative politician having any integrity at all? Of course nothing Finley says makes sense and of course she's trying to fool Canadians into believing that quotas aren't quotas simply because she chooses to call them something else. Why would we expect anything else from her? Surely we shouldn't expect integrity, competence and honesty. Remember, she's the one whose Ministry was responsible for losing confidential information about more than 500,000 Canadians. Steve and his group of lackeys will lie, cheat, obfuscate, delay, and treat the Canadian public like idiots because that's all they know how to do. It obviously worked as it got them elected twice.

  • Pierre Neary
    February 27, 2013 - 14:59

    Minister Finley, very creative semantics. Maybe you could help me with a word that comes to my mind?"Arsehole". The federal government has essentially declared war on the jobless.

  • Pierre Neary
    February 27, 2013 - 14:57

    Minister Finley, very creative semantics. Maybe you could help me with a word that comes to my mind?"Arsehole". The federal government has essentially declared war on the jobless.

  • George
    February 27, 2013 - 07:34

    Ignore, deny, obfusicate, redirect (repeat) It's a recipie that works for the Tories all the time.