Thursday, May 08, 2014

An open letter to the CFIB and the Canadian people on boycotting or hating on the CFIB

My name is Tina Brooks. My husband and I own a small batch specialty co-pack business in Rigaud, Quebec and we are proud members of the CFIB.

I am writing this letter because Canada's labour federations, Press Progress and the Broadbent Institute are actively undermining the CFIB because they have at one time or another been on opposite sides of the fence from a position that the CFIB has represented on the part of its' membership.

Let me tell you about MY experience with the CFIB. When Brooks Pepperfire Foods opened our doors in 2003, we received a visit from our account rep who congratulated us on opening our business and asked if we were familiar with the Canadian Federation of Independent Business. My first husband's company had been members, but I personally didn't know anything more than that about the organization.

She explained to me that the CFIB is a non-profit, non-partisan lobbying group who polls their membership in order to present their needs and demands to government. She explained that, because we are members, our points of view would gain access to government that we ourselves could not gain.

The organization also provided a network of small business owners in similar situations to the ones we were about to go through to garner information and support from, if we were so inclined. We have been offered, help and support in running our business and that has been invaluable.

I have an account online that I rarely if ever visit, but when I do, I find useful information for business owners. There is never a discussion of politics or what which political parties are doing unless there is an election. Then, the CFIB provides me with videos of each of the party leaders (all of them, even the backbenchers and independents) and interviews them on the topics they've polled the membership to ask.

Every spring, about this time, my local CFIB representative comes into my shop and spends at least an hour with me, going over what the CFIB is lobbying and has successfully lobbied over the last year, and then proceeds to walk me through a series of polls designed to glean my input as a small business owner. She has never discussed politics with me, although, that is one of my favourite things to discuss. She is very careful not to lead me when going through the poll with me, and she has never expressed any political opinions to me, ever.

Currently the head spokesperson and mouthpiece for the CFIB is a fellow named Dan Kelly. His job is to take the compiled results of these membership polls and to present them, not only to government, but to media as well. He is currently the target, it seems, because of a recent CBC interview discussing the Temporary Foreign Workers' Program currently in the news.

Recently, the Federal Government and several business owners across Canada got caught with their hands in the cookie jar. People and governments are like that. They like to cheat until they get caught. For me it's really annoying because the lessons life teaches are to be honest and tell the truth, but people and especially governments don't do that.

So suddenly, there we were with a few business owners, cheating on the TFWP and the insinuation is that the group cheating are members of the CFIB. So, when the Tory Government in it's crash and burn sort of tactic blankly shut down the Temporary Foreign Workers Program, upsetting an apple cart that had been in place since the 70s, small business owners who ARE members of the CFIB went to our lobby group to complain.

Well, I imagine that some of the TFWP's participants, less than 10% of the membership of the CFIB were suddenly upset because they had employees who were on this program who had been summarily cut off, regardless of whether they were legitimate users of the program or not.

But the ship had sailed. So, Dan Kelly, as is his job, expressed to the media that there was a blanket error being made by the Federal Government in cancelling this program access without individually determining whether the businesses using the TFWP were legitimate or not.

Then there came the media uproar.

Dan Kelly was interviewed by Evan Solomon at the CBC and all hell broke loose.

I invite you to watch that interview here:

Suddenly I was reading Facebook posts and Twitter feeds calling for the boycott of the CFIB membership. Interestingly, at the same time, someone lit upon Dan Kelly's comment that Canadians weren't exactly lining up for fast food service jobs or to clean hotel rooms.

The Canadian Labour Congress, an employee at the CRA and several other Labour groups were up in arms and claiming that the CFIB was biased, that the head of the CFIB had called Canadians "lazy" and that the entire membership of the organization were Tory stooges.

I was taken aback and more than a little surprised. I'm not one to join groups that are partisan or supportive of an anti-human platform. So I was suddenly required to take a really close look at the organization we had aligned with to see if they really were as horrible as people were saying they were.

I spent all morning digging and reading and digging some more. I went onto the CFIB membership website and I started reading and reading and reading. I went so far as to actually do two CFIB surveys, not because I particularly wanted my opinion known on either topic, but rather because I wanted to see if the questions were leading or partisan in any way.

I went browsing the internet to see WHO was talking about the CFIB and what they were saying.

I discovered several things.

1. Dan Kelly is the mouth piece for a non-partisan organization that expressly represents the interests of its' membership which it learns through unbiased non-partisan polling methods.

2. The biggest, most vocal detractors were of two ilk. Tory and Labour/NDP supporters. It seemed to me that I found no Liberal voices in the mix and in fact, discovered that the Liberals were liking the CFIB because the membership liked their stance vis-a-vis the 2013 Ontario Liberal Government's budget; iow, they supported it. So, if anyone might be accused of carrying the CFIB's bias, it might be the Liberals, but no. Supposedly the capitalist pig members of the CFIB are all Tory supporters who hate Canadians because they're all lazy.

3. Although many anti-Tory partisans were claiming that the CFIB is a Tory stooge or that it was a pro-Tory group, I found zero evidence of that. Instead what I did find were NDP and Labour supporters spouting talking points designed to denigrate the CFIB because they didn't support Ontario Labour's desire for business to increase their employment costs by creating private pension plans for their employees. I guess Labour doesn't really understand small business. Especially when we are well aware that pension plans are the business of government, not small businesses.

4. There is absolutely nothing anywhere that would lead any thinking person to believe that the CFIB is directly supporting ANY government faction, unless you listen to the spin of those who would have you believe that the CFIB is supportive of their measures, when only certain members of the organization in fact support those groups.

5. The CFIB goes to a great deal of trouble to amass the responses from the membership to set their platforms and they are extremely careful not only in wording those responses, but in lobbying those responses to Government on the membership's behalf.

6. Press Progress is an enormous mouthpiece fanning the flames of anti-employer sentiment. Only I was not sure why Press Progress would do such a thing... until I learned that they have a pro-labour agenda, funded by the Broadbent Institute.

Yet, I'm seeing bias alright. I'm seeing a pro-labour agenda alright and it's all coming from that one place and it's partisan.

NONE of them are coming from the CFIB. Oh, sure, Dan Kelly said that some employers were saying that Canadians aren't exactly lining up for their jobs. Press Progress decided that he'd said "Canadians are lazy". He didn't say that.

What a lot of people don't know is that those who use the TFWP must be qualified to benefit from the program by the Government of Canada. They must not only pay to bring the employee from his homeland to here, he must also pay for that employee's return. In addition to that, they are required to help the employee secure accommodations and subscribe these employees to the workman's compensation benefits programs. In addition to that, they must pay the worker the "industry average", which in ALL cases is at least minimum wage or above.

If indeed anyone, McDonald's franchisees included, were paying any foreign workers, under this program, less than minimum wage, a majority of CFIB members support throwing the book at them.

But Press Progress isn't talking about that.

It's always wonderful to hear people talking about what the CFIB said, but not once has anyone actually quoted what Dan Kelly did say. They have all implied that he said hurtful and hateful things that make the CFIB worthy of disbanding and worthy of a boycott of anyone who is a member.

At first, I thought it was just Labour, except that NDPers had picked up the ball. So, I asked my MP. He says it's not coming from them... so where is it coming from?

The Broadbent Institute and Press Progress. Nice spin if you can get it.

So, if you're planning on boycotting the CFIB or quitting the CFIB because they're supposedly biased or supporting the Tory agenda... take a slightly closer look at who you're boycotting.

I notice Press Progress conveniently ignored when the CFIB denounced the changes the Tories were bringing to the TFWP last July, but by January, the CFIB was to blame for supposedly supporting the program.

Interestingly, the CFIB has only ever reported what has come from their membership, without partisan spin. Unlike Press Progress who spins what they report.


Read enough of the picking and choosing that the spinners are doing and you'll very quickly discover that you've been spun.

And if, after reading this, you think I'm the one who has been spun, you just go right ahead and boycott all the members of the CFIB, my own business included. Because I've done my homework and seen where the "spin" and "lies" are coming from. Frankly, I'm a little more than embarrassed for the Broadbent Institute, their bias is obvious. I used to think they were less biased than the Fraser Institute. I was wrong. Sad that I was SO wrong. tsk tsk.

As a friend of mine on Twitter said recently; You believe what you like and I'll believe what I like. Personally, I'll believe the truth that is right in front of my eyes. If you see anything that even remotely shows that the CFIB is biased in any way, do let me know, because all of the bias I found was not theirs.