Conrad Black -- that great defender of the Common Man -- argued in Saturday's National Post that public service unions are a public plague. He was defending the Harper government's decision to dictate labour policy at the CBC, Canada Post and Via Rail. The solution to public service strikes is straight out of Alice In Wonderland -- off with their heads:
The CBC should be reformed as Charles I and Louis XVI were reformed, by the liberative stimulation of decapitation, and the vital and creative elements should be allowed, and financially permitted, to flourish.
Black holds a particular animus towards teachers unions:
Labour strife in education has been one of the greatest frustrations of modern Western society. As it became less and less an occupation for single women or wives in the era before most women were in the workplace, and became more the occupation of people (of both sexes) who had to support a family from a teacher’s income, pressures for higher compensation steadily rose. Skyrocketing costs have been accompanied by sharply declining standards of educational effectiveness, and in the level of competence of students. Matriculation numbers have been maintained only by making the examinations and the curriculum simpler.
Mr. Black began his career by selling exams to his fellow students at Upper Canada College -- from whose hallowed halls he was expelled. Like his conviction for obstruction of justice in the U.S., he felt it was a miscarriage of justice. One suspects his treatment by teachers might have shaped his opinion.
In the end, the Lord of Crossharbour refers to the august Maurice Duplessis: "They do not have the right to strike against the public interest." But who determines what is in the public interest? Duplessis was not working in the public interest during the 1949 strike at Asbestos, Quebec. And, when Archbishop Charbonneau sided with the workers, he managed to get the Pope to replace the archbishop.
Does Mr. Black speak for the public interest? Does Stephen Harper? No, it's just more pontification from the pompous.