Friday, July 23, 2010

Applying Equity, Equally

When I read this article, I thought, like most Canadians, that the issue at hand was about equality. With that in mind I indignantly criticized the policy for trying to correct discrimination by discriminating.

But it's not about equality its about equity, a word with a much more, shall we say, fuzzy (and therefore politically useful) definition. The equity in question is specifically Canada's version of affirmative action called employment equity.

To quote from the act itself:
"The purpose of this Act is to achieve equality in the workplace so that no person shall be denied employment opportunities or benefits for reasons unrelated to ability and, in the fulfilment of that goal, to correct the conditions of disadvantage in employment experienced by women, aboriginal peoples, persons with disabilities and members of visible minorities by giving effect to the principle that employment equity means more than treating persons in the same way but also requires special measures and the accommodation of differences."

Tell me, which of these is true? Is the act designed to achieve equality so that no person shall be denied employment opportunities for reasons unrelated to ability? Or is it to correct conditions of disadvantage through special measures and the accommodation of differences?

Pick one, have your cake or eat it. You can not do both. The two stated goals are incompatible, they are contradictory and therefore can not and will not be mutually satisfied. You can have equality based on merit or you can ignore merit and satisfy physical, gender or racially based criteria. But you can not consistently claim to do both.

Yes, it may very well be that the best person for the job also happens to be one of the preferred class (a woman, or disabled or a minority or aboriginal) but it will happen only by chance.

Sara Landriault commented;
“I do not wish to take anyone’s job, my only wish was to be allowed to apply based on my qualifications. No government should have the right to ask you your race or gender to see if you are qualified for a job. That is discrimination.”
She is correct. It is discrimination, but what is more is that she is only appealing to the very principle for which this act was apparently created to address, she is only trying to appeal to the equality part of the act, to have an equal chance based on merit to get the job. The response built into this flawed, discriminatory and racist act is predictable. Your merit does not matter, sorry you don't meet the (in this instance) racial criteria.

So I was thinking, since it is clear that the Employment Equity Act is really not about equality of any sort, only equity, and since the population of Canada consists of people, 88.79% of whom are designated as part of the "Non Visible Minority Population" (read the majority); by my calculations in order to apply this equitable policy equally, those identifying as "Visible Minorities" ought only to be permitted to apply for 11.21% of all jobs in Canada.

That is truly an equitable solution. What is more it applies the principle which denied Mrs. Landriault the opportunity to apply for the job to all Canadians as equally as possible. So lets do it that way instead!

I'm joking of course.

The idea is as ridiculous as it is distasteful to any reasonable rational person, we all know it and we all recognize it. So what makes the very same idea reasonable to seemingly rational people when applied unequally based on the same criteria of race, gender, handicap and ethnicity?

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