Thursday, August 09, 2012

How Not To Do Labour Relations

Just as Peter Kent is the Anti-Environment Minister, Lisa Raitt is the Anti-Labour Minister. Her job has been to legislate Canada Post, Air Canada and Canadian Pacific workers back to their workplaces before a strike got underway. But an indication of just how clumsy the Conservatives are at handling labour relations occurred yesterday when a federal court ordered the government to replace its chosen arbitrator:

In a decision released Wednesday, the court said arbitrator Guy Dufort’s previous work for Canada Post and history as a Conservative candidate in Quebec casts doubt on his impartiality.

“In light of the unique context of labour relations and the special law, the court concludes that a reasonable and sensible person might worry that the arbitrator is biased because of these two reasons,” says a summary of the decision.

Dufour was on a list of possible arbitrators. But CUPW says it was unaware of Dufour's ties to the Conservative Party:

The union says Dufort’s Facebook page contained links to Conservative groups under the “activities and interests” section, and he was “friends” on the social networking site with both Raitt and Tory MP Steven Fletcher, the junior minister responsible for Canada Post. The links have since been removed.

Apparently, such blatant conflict of interest did not strike the Conservatives as a problem. Dufour replaced the original arbitrator, retired judge Coulter Osborne, who quit after it became public knowledge that he was not bilingual.

There are two givens in labour relations in Canada. One is that arbitrators are impartial. The other is that -- at least in the federal workplace -- they should be bilingual. The Harper Conservatives clearly do not intend to abide by what used to be labour relations axioms.

They don't know how to do labour relations -- and they don't intend to do them.


Lorne said...

I was struck, Owen, by this line from the story:

The government is now considering its options, and Raitt’s office had little to say on the matter.

One cannot help but wonder what those options might be. Will the government in its hubris decide to appeal the decision or simply ignore it, as it has done with court decisions about the return of Omar Khadr to Canada?

Owen Gray said...

I wouldn't be surprised if the government tried to ignore the decision, Lorne. They have ignored the court on Khadr.

It will be interesting to see their response if the Supreme Court concurs with the lower court decision to overturn the Etobicoke Centre results.

Anonymous said...

Harper is appointing, two new Conservative judges. He has desperately tried to stop the investigation of, the election riding disputes. Harper knows beyond the shadow of a doubt, he will never win another election again.

Same with the robo-call election fraud cheat. William Corbett of Elections Canada, suddenly resigned??? In his place, Harper appointed one of his boys Yves Corte. We all know what that means. More cheating to win.

Harper is using every dirty tactic in the book, to lie his way out of both those issues.

Harper is being very generous. He said, he will let science decide on, the Enbridge pipeline and the dirty oil tankers, coming into BC. That's very bad news, we know the fix is in. Harper said, there is no such thing as global warming. Thousands of scientists around the globe have said, climate change is from burning fossil fuels. Even the skeptics, are now saying this.

Heads up people. There are dirty tactics, dirty politics afoot.

Owen Gray said...

Politics has always been dirty, Anon. But these people recognize no limits.