Pro Tem is the Bilingual Newspaper of Glendon College. Founded in 1962, it is York University’s oldest student-run publication, and Ontario’s first bilingual newspaper. All content is produced and edited by students, for students.

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Pro Tem est le journal bilingue du Collège Glendon. Ayant été fondé en 1962, nous sommes la publication la plus ancienne de l’Université York ainsi que le premier journal bilingue en Ontario. Tout le contenu est produit et édité par les étudiants, pour les étudiants.

Why Affirmative Action is Right

Why Affirmative Action is Right

Let it be known that an overwhelming feeling of outrage is what has driven me to write about affirmative action. I am outraged by all the critics who have devoted their lives to ending affirmative action. I have struggled to come to terms with how these critics, some of whom have never experienced racial profiling a single day in their lives, are audacious enough to put down the policy that aims to prevent systemic discrimination in our public and private institutions.

To be fair, I don't believe the name "affirmative action" does any good to its purpose. For someone who has never heard of Affirmative Action, the name might sound more authoritative than it is. There will always be people in society who will choose to oppose something because it doesn't "sound right." So, please allow me to educate you on reasons why affirmative action should be left the way it is and why you should care about efforts to dismantle its related policies.

Affirmative action is a shield for visible and non-visible minorities to protect themselves from unlawful prosecution or discrimination from the state. You take away that shield, and we minorities have no army to fight for our best interests. Affirmative action can take shape through four different models: compensatory, diversity, discrimination-blocking, and integrative. The popular model of affirmative action in Canada is discrimination-blocking. Canadians can't stand the thought of discrimination taking place in any of our institutions or places of employment. Our approach: "Killl the virus before it spreads".

So, if we're so great at kicking the enemy of affirmative action out before it gets to kick us back, then we don't have anything to worry about concerning affirmative action "eh"? Couldn’t we survive without it since we have the 1982 Charter of Rights and Freedoms—a document that explicitly says, “as long as you're a Canadian citizen, you're entitled to these rights"? Translated from legalese, it says: “If you've been a victim of a racial attack, verbal or nonverbal discrimination, by the government or any representative of the government, call us at 1-800-BLOCKDISCRIMINATION.”

What's wrong, then? Why is there an opposition to a policy that protects society's most vulnerable groups? The answer for me is simple: ignorance. Those opposed to affirmative action choose to ignore the fact that Indigenous peoples, people with disabilities, visible minorities, and members of the LGBTQ community are being denied jobs that they otherwise qualify for. Immigration Canada markets this country as the "land of opportunity," yet opponents of affirmative action choose to ignore the fact that we have immigrant lawyers, doctors, professors, and varied professionals working minimum wage jobs in our production facilities.

You don't need to google this; ask around and you'll discover immigrant families with a similar story line: "We came here with the impression that we were going to continue working in our fields but after going through job applications we were told we needed Canadian experience in our field". What is this so-called Canadian experience? What makes it superior to the experiences you get from working in any other country in the world? Making the argument that different countries have different work and education institutions that may not meet the standard required here in Canada only highlights global inequality.

Opponents of affirmative action choose to ignore the fact that only one percent of Canadian government jobs are reserved for Indigenous peoples and visible minorities. Instead, they bring up the cliche argument that "affirmative action in the workplace should be based on selecting the best qualified candidates." The argument itself is plausible, but if you put it in other words, it basically implies that visible minorities are only getting jobs over qualified candidates because they are visible minorities. Let's dissect this a little further. If this claim is true, then there is nothing wrong with compensating a discriminated person with a job offer based on the fact that they have been denied jobs for which they qualified in the past. Affirmative action does not encourage favoritism, it encourages fairness.

Affirmative action is right when discrimination says "we need Canadian experience in this field" and there isn't a single employer in the field in question willing to hire an otherwise qualified candidate with no "Canadian experience.” Affirmative action is right when children from single-parent homes are subject to more Children’s Aid Society involvement. Affirmative action is right when a transgender person is asked to use the washroom the owner of a business or restaurant thinks they should use. Affirmative action is right as long as discrimination exists in our institutions.

Paul

Paul

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