Stephen Harper does not believe in creating a big tent. His political success has been based on wedges. He drives them between people and reassembles the pieces that fit his agenda. And so, Tasha Kheiriddin writes, he will use labour unions as a wedge in the next election:
Last fall, at its national convention, the federal Conservatives debated a slew of resolutions designed to curb union power, including that of federal public service unions. Six of the resolutions passed — including some supporting the government bringing public sector benefits “in line with those of the private sector” — and others on broader issues, such as ending mandatory union dues and membership.
Harper calculates that labour will swing behind the NDP and split the vote for the Liberals:
Riling the labour movement will help the Conservatives if unions step up support for their natural political ally: the NDP. Stopping the bleed of NDP votes to the Liberals would help deny the Liberals seats, particularly in Quebec, where the NDP gained the bulk of its caucus, and the 905, where vote splits helped several Conservative candidates sidle up the middle to victory.
But, Kheiriddin warns, the plan could backfire
if unions, particularly those representing the public sector, decide to help the Liberals on the assumption that they are more likely to be their new bosses in Ottawa. That relationship would require an expression interest on the part of the Liberal party, however, and there’s no major indication of that — yet.
With this prime minister, it's all politics all the time. And it's always about gaining the upper hand. You may have noticed that -- lately -- that strategy has been failing.
Nonetheless, unions are next on Harper's hit list.