Wednesday, May 30, 2012

A Recipe For Economic Disaster

When historians sit down to write about how radical the Harper government was, they will surely focus on how it treated labour. Tom Walkom writes that legislating an end to a railway strike is nothing new in Canada:

Canadian governments, whether Liberal or Conservative, have never let railway strikes drag on. Back-to-work legislation has been imposed on striking rail workers at least seven times since 1950.

What is dramatically new about this particular majority government, however, is the break-neck speed with which it acts. It legislates an end to strikes immediately after — and in some cases before — they begin.

It has introduced the concept of pre-emptive warfare to labour negotiations.

Conservatives across North America have declared war on public service unions -- Governor Scott Walker's attack on Wisconsin public sector workers being the most egregious. But what sets the Harper government apart is its willingness to intervene in the private sector -- at Air Canada and CP Rail -- and its refusal to do anything as Electromotive -- which received large Harper tax breaks -- packed up and moved to Indiana.

Walkom writes that there has been a distinct change from Harper's minority government years to now:

Compare that to the way in which the Harper minority government handled a similar strike by Canadian National Railway workers in 2007.

In that case, workers were either on strike or locked out for a total of 23 days over three months before the Conservative government — with Liberal support — brought in back-to-work legislation

That same year, CP rail maintenance workers went on strike for three weeks. Yet here, the Conservative government did nothing.

“The government doesn’t introduce a law each time there is a strike,” then labour minister Jean-Pierre Blackburn explained.

Harper clearly intends to put workers in their place and to ensure that wealth trickles up to the top. It's a recipe for economic disaster.


Edstock said...

"It's a recipe for economic disaster." — and it's one more plank in the gallows that Stevie is building for himself. Patience, Stevie's Operation Piss Off Canada has another 2½ years or so, to really mature.

Tossing Pebbles in the Stream said...

The Governing can only govern with the consent of the governed. The ultimate weapon of the governed is to withhold their consent, fail to behave the law and ultimately, a general stike. Time will tell if such an exteme measure as a general strike happens. I can envision labour unions refusing to go "back to work" although penalties are usually so severe, the cost for the union and its leaders is very high.

Tossing Pebbles in the Stream said...

I no sooner sent my previous comment than I read about this It seems the Quebec protests are morphing into a defense of a vision of Canada other than that of the Harper government. Get you pot ready.

Owen Gray said...

You're right, Ed. Harper's alienated Quebec. His EI "reforms" will alienate Atlantic Canada, reminding East Coasters that he lambasted them for promoting what he called a "culture of defeat."

Soon he will infuriate West Coasters with his pipeline. And Ontarians will be furious about their paralyzed industrial plants.

The smartest guy in the room can't see past his nose.

Owen Gray said...

General strikes are not unprecedented, Philip. Not being a historian, I imagine that Mr. Harper only has a cursory knowledge of the Winnipeg General Strike, which put an end to the legal definition of labour unions as conspiracies.

If Harper had his way, he would re-institute that definition.

Owen Gray said...

Perhaps the Night of the Casseroles will have some traction, Philip. I certainly hope so.

It will take people in the streets to force a change on the Harper government.

Beijing York said...

Today the oil industry projected some 9,500 new jobs to be filled by 2015. That's about 3,000 per year. Colour me underwhelmed. And those are the good jobs generated by Canada's #1 economic engine.

Owen Gray said...

That's a really interesting number, Bejiing. It puts the lie to the government's claim that the EI "reforms" are all about matching people with jobs and geography.

However, this is a government which has no factual basis for any of its policies.

Kim said...

Many West Coasters are already infuriated. What worries me is this Government will follow the example set by the so-called BC Liberals and just find a way to keep fixing the elections and do maximum damage in the 2 1/2 years remaining. Trust me, that is alot of potential damage. Probably irreversable.

Owen Gray said...

That's the real concern, Kim. The Harper Party is working very hard to make their changes permanent.

Perhaps the best thing the opposition and an angry public can do is mount a delaying action.

The kids in Montreal have shown Canadians that simply imposing a policy doesn't guarantee compliance with that policy.

Anonymous said...

75% of the BC citizens are supporting the F.N. to keep the atrocities of the Enbridge pipeline and the dirty tar tankers out of BC. We will fight the monster Harper to the last ditch, to save BC from his greed.

The Etioboke Center election, declared null and void, by the Supreme Court...Seems Harper is appointing two new Conservative judges. Moritz is appealing that decision. Will one of Harper's appointed new judges hear Moritz' appeal? Harper is now frantic, to stop all the election disputes. He knows by-elections will sink him, because he cheated and Canadians are very furious at Harper, for that.

Harper is also trying to quash the robo-call election fraud investigation. What does that tell us? Over half of Canadians did not want Harper as P.M....he knew it, he cheated. Over 2/3 Canadians and counting, do not want Harper.

Harper is a Neo-Nazi Reformer of his, Northern Foundation Party from 1989. They said, the skinheads assisted to organize that party.

Stalin, Hitler and Mussolini were all dictators. All of them were control freaks. All of them have the same, typo personalities. Harper is every bit as hateful, as the other dictators.

The media is the most urgent, to get control of, in a dictatorship. Then they start their, shameful, insane quests for control, of absolutely everything, they can get their dirty hands on.

Owen Gray said...

We would be naive not to think that Stephen Harper will pull out all the stops to stay where he is, Anon.

Only sustained public opposition will keep him from being reelected a second time.