Casino bill enactment to be deferred


Pro-casino lawmakers have given up on getting a bill to legalise casino gambling enacted during the current Diet session which ends Sept 27.

Members of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party, the Japan Innovation Party and the Party for Future Generations submitted the bill for the second time in April and had hoped the bill would pass before the Diet session ends.

However, the Diet has been preoccupied with a debate on controversial security legislation, the Trans-Pacific Pact free trade talks and the Olympic stadium fiasco.

The casino bill, if passed, would establish an industry analysts say could generate 4 trillion yen a year and which Prime Minister Shinzo Abe sees as key to economic growth.

Attempts to legalise casino gambling in Japan, which industry experts say is one of the world’s last major untapped gaming markets, have been delayed repeatedly amid opposition from lawmakers worried about addiction and organised crime.

Some members of the Buddhist-backed Komeito, a junior partner in Abe’s coalition government, oppose legalisation. Lawmakers in the pro-casino camp have said this opposition made it hard for them to push for the bill even though supporters slightly outnumber opponents in the Diet.

Companies such as Las Vegas Sands Corp and MGM Resorts International are vying to win licenses to operate casinos in Japan, a market that brokerage CLSA estimates could generate annual revenue of $40 billion.

NDP was paying some Punjabi phone canvassers $13 (four bucks less than their English counterparts)

At the same time NDP leader Thomas Mulcair was railing about “equality” and demanding a $15-an-hour minimum wage, some of the party’s Punjabi-speaking phone canvassers were being paid $13 an hour — four bucks less than their English-speaking counterparts.

Now, after an investigation by The Province newspaper, the Punjabi-speaking workers are receiving back pay.

“We’ve now cleared that up,” said Bob Penner, president of Vancouver’s Strategic Communications, a key NDP consulting company.

“We will now ensure the employees in question are paid at a rate of $17 per hour, which is the rate of pay offered by the NDP.”

Nice to know. But I doubt these Punjabi-speaking NDP workers would have ever known they were being ripped off in the first place.

In Sunday’s paper, I told you about two NDP want ads that appeared on Craigslist. One ad sought English-speaking phone canvassers for the NDP at a rate of pay of $17 an hour. The other ad sought Punjabi-speaking phone canvassers for just $13 an hour.

The contrasting pay rates smacked of blatant discrimination. And with Mulcair campaigning for a $15-an-hour minimum wage, the cut-rate pay for Punjabi canvassers was also extremely hypocritical.

When I asked the NDP for an explanation, the party could not offer one, suggesting the Punjabi ad — placed on Craigslist by Burnaby-based employment agency Express Professionals — may have been a mistake.