Who's next in the Stephen Harper crosshairs?

Lana
Lana Payne
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First they came for the women seeking equal pay for work of equal value.


The federal government's Equitable Compensation Act is a thinly veiled assault on this Canadian human right. The legislation, according to the Professional Institute of the Public Service of Canada (PIPSC), "will turn back the clock and lead to the death of pay equity."


Then they came for federal sector unions and their audacity to want to exercise their democratic right to free collective bargaining. The same federal budget implementation bill that attacked pay equity also restricts the rights of public sector unions to negotiate pay and compensation. PIPSC is now taking the federal government to court over the legislation.



First they came for the women seeking equal pay for work of equal value.

The federal government's Equitable Compensation Act is a thinly veiled assault on this Canadian human right. The legislation, according to the Professional Institute of the Public Service of Canada (PIPSC), "will turn back the clock and lead to the death of pay equity."

Then they came for federal sector unions and their audacity to want to exercise their democratic right to free collective bargaining. The same federal budget implementation bill that attacked pay equity also restricts the rights of public sector unions to negotiate pay and compensation. PIPSC is now taking the federal government to court over the legislation.

Then it was the autoworkers and their nerve to aspire to be part of Canada's middle class and break ground at the bargaining table in hope that others would also benefit from their tenacity.

Even after recently reaching a new agreement with General Motors, the federal government, joined by their new best friend Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty, told the union to go back to the table and take more concessions. The union said no and is standing firm. As Canadian Autoworkers Union President Ken Lewenza has said numerous times, their members could work for free and it would not solve the problem.

You have to wonder how they think this kind of attack on working people will help the economy or consumer confidence.

Even the CBC

Next it was the so-called left-leaning CBC who have had its hands tied and its ability to perform its mandate as Canada's public broadcaster severely stymied. And I repeat, the CBC is Canada's public broadcaster, not a state or government broadcaster.

The Harperites continue to fail to understand the difference. But what do we expect from a government that has had little more than contempt for democracy from day 1?

Who is next on the Harper government hit list? And who is standing in the way of the Tories carrying out their agenda - using the recession as an excuse to do all sorts of nasty deeds?

No doubt Stephen Harper managed to stomach his way through the brilliant, thought-provoking and award-winning "Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism" by Naomi Klein.

In it, Klein details what she describes as "the use of a crisis to push through unpopular, procorporate policies."

Digging in deeper

In this case, the crisis is a global financial mess brought on by extreme avarice, causing a crippling crisis in the real economy where millions of working people around the globe are paying the price. And what does Harper do? He digs the knife in a little deeper.

How long will the opposition Liberals allow the Harper government to get away with this kind of attack? Is the man who would like to be prime minister doing little because he sees little wrong with the Harper agenda?

Are they biding their time; waiting for the right moment and to have the right amount of cash to pull the plug on the Conservatives? If so, this is not about doing what's best for Canadians. It's about doing what's best for the Liberals.

By allowing the budget implementation bill to pass as it was, the Liberals voted for an attack on women's equality, they voted for an attack on trade union freedoms, they voted to keep Stephen Harper in power, allowing him to continue the carnage.

Maybe the Liberals are doing little because they actually agree with the shock therapy as explained by Klein. After all, the federal Liberals have been known to apply a little shock and awe of their own. In a recent interview with Rabble.ca, Klein reminds us that this is exactly what the Liberals did after winning a majority in 1993.

They ran on a platform that included all kinds of great advancements, including a universal child-care program. "Then they caved," says Klein, "to pressure from Bay Street, from the corporate media and from right-wing think-tanks in the face of the debt crisis. They broke their election promises ... so we need to have long memories about the Liberals because they have done exactly what Harper has just done."

Despite all of this, there is cause for hope. There is an opportunity in this crisis for those who see the world differently.

The Harper-Bush-ThatcherReagan-Milton Freidman version of capitalism - deregulation, privatization, cuts to social spending and attacks on unions - has failed and failed miserably.

This is the time to fight for a better world where the wealth from the economy actually gets shared.

Where greed is tempered by regulation and where governments do what they are supposed to do - stand up for citizens and be active players in the economy, not bystanders in the demise of what took generations to build.

Lana Payne is president of the Newfoundland and Labrador Federation of Labour. She can be reached by e-mail at lanapayne@nl.rogers.com. Her column returns April 25.

Organizations: Professional Institute of the Public Service of Canada, CBC, General Motors Canadian Autoworkers Union Conservatives Newfoundland and Labrador Federation of Labour

Geographic location: Canada, Ontario, Bay Street

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Recent comments

  • Elizabeth
    July 02, 2010 - 13:34

    I agree with everything; early on I heard that Harper is dangerous , and now I understand why. I disliked him instinctively, and certainly didn't vote for him (I live in Cgy SW), but I didn't begin to find out all the details until Stephane Dion did the country a second huge service by forming a coalition, and driving Harper out into the open.

    As for the Liberals - they've got to wait for the right time. Doing what's right for Liberals is doing what's right for us. I don't want Ignatieff to end up with a minority, I want a massive landslide. I'm hoping he gets more seats than Mulroney did, but a majority will be fine.

    Ignatieff strikes me as the type of leader who will do what he has to do to win, hopefully, but not the type of person to break promises. I'm not worried about him at all; I'm only worried that he won't completely and finally extinguish the ReformaTories.

  • Eugene
    July 02, 2010 - 13:27

    Well, Lana, you've obviously raised the dander on the semi-literate Andrea. Astute observation, except for the sympathy you wish to evoke for auto workers. If auto workers were leading by example they wouldn't shop at Walmart and would be actively seeking to unionize all workers. While I don't deny unionized workers all that they can get for themselves, when that money is coming from my tax dollars it does have a tendency to stick in my craw...having an agreement with GM, which has shown its extremely poor fiscal management skills, isn't reason enough for the public to applaud, based on what we're seeing out of the big 3...they'll do anything they can to speed to process of pocketing public dollars. Equitable distribution of wealth is what I (we all?) want, what we've seen from grossly overpaid auto types (from the assembly line to the board room) is trickle-down, scraps from our table economics, and that's just not equitable.

  • Andrea
    July 02, 2010 - 13:21

    Hopefully your nexr Lana . Go worship your idol Jack NO BRAIN Leader of the Federal NDP. You do have so much in common with him.

  • Clarence
    July 02, 2010 - 13:20

    I see you have your lefty darlings in Nfld. too. She sounds a lot like pinko Jack alright.

  • Brett
    July 02, 2010 - 13:20

    I agree with your article. When will the rest of this country wake up , maybe when they are the sector being attacked . The auto sector and the C.A.W. have made great gains socially, that have improved the standard of living for all Canadians not just themselves.
    But if people in this country don't start to demand Fair Trade not Free Trade then this situation will continue.
    Hope it doesn't hit you!

  • g-man
    July 02, 2010 - 13:20

    im not one to always agree with the telegram and its columns,but this article couldnt be expressed any better,than the author of this story..i just wish the rest of the country will soon wake up and smell the roses tooo.our PM(harpo) has the eye cue of a green pea.

  • Rick
    July 02, 2010 - 13:16

    Intresting read Lana, yeah when you really stop and think....... When will it stop? Us Canadians being a passive bunch don't sit up and take notice until it effects us directly, but the facts are the facts. I for one hope no one is next, with 510,000 out of work in just recent months, workers rights being taken away, no accountibility for public funds, and the lack of vision coming from this govenment for our country, what a mess. The unfortunate thing is that non of them use their brains, every elected government in Canada sercum to the yeah us to mentality, dancing at the end of the US puppet strings.

  • Barry
    July 02, 2010 - 13:12

    g-man that eye cue of a green pea as you call it seems to be up at least a few percentage points above yours.

  • Elizabeth
    July 01, 2010 - 20:23

    I agree with everything; early on I heard that Harper is dangerous , and now I understand why. I disliked him instinctively, and certainly didn't vote for him (I live in Cgy SW), but I didn't begin to find out all the details until Stephane Dion did the country a second huge service by forming a coalition, and driving Harper out into the open.

    As for the Liberals - they've got to wait for the right time. Doing what's right for Liberals is doing what's right for us. I don't want Ignatieff to end up with a minority, I want a massive landslide. I'm hoping he gets more seats than Mulroney did, but a majority will be fine.

    Ignatieff strikes me as the type of leader who will do what he has to do to win, hopefully, but not the type of person to break promises. I'm not worried about him at all; I'm only worried that he won't completely and finally extinguish the ReformaTories.

  • Eugene
    July 01, 2010 - 20:14

    Well, Lana, you've obviously raised the dander on the semi-literate Andrea. Astute observation, except for the sympathy you wish to evoke for auto workers. If auto workers were leading by example they wouldn't shop at Walmart and would be actively seeking to unionize all workers. While I don't deny unionized workers all that they can get for themselves, when that money is coming from my tax dollars it does have a tendency to stick in my craw...having an agreement with GM, which has shown its extremely poor fiscal management skills, isn't reason enough for the public to applaud, based on what we're seeing out of the big 3...they'll do anything they can to speed to process of pocketing public dollars. Equitable distribution of wealth is what I (we all?) want, what we've seen from grossly overpaid auto types (from the assembly line to the board room) is trickle-down, scraps from our table economics, and that's just not equitable.

  • Andrea
    July 01, 2010 - 20:05

    Hopefully your nexr Lana . Go worship your idol Jack NO BRAIN Leader of the Federal NDP. You do have so much in common with him.

  • Clarence
    July 01, 2010 - 20:03

    I see you have your lefty darlings in Nfld. too. She sounds a lot like pinko Jack alright.

  • Brett
    July 01, 2010 - 20:03

    I agree with your article. When will the rest of this country wake up , maybe when they are the sector being attacked . The auto sector and the C.A.W. have made great gains socially, that have improved the standard of living for all Canadians not just themselves.
    But if people in this country don't start to demand Fair Trade not Free Trade then this situation will continue.
    Hope it doesn't hit you!

  • g-man
    July 01, 2010 - 20:02

    im not one to always agree with the telegram and its columns,but this article couldnt be expressed any better,than the author of this story..i just wish the rest of the country will soon wake up and smell the roses tooo.our PM(harpo) has the eye cue of a green pea.

  • Rick
    July 01, 2010 - 19:55

    Intresting read Lana, yeah when you really stop and think....... When will it stop? Us Canadians being a passive bunch don't sit up and take notice until it effects us directly, but the facts are the facts. I for one hope no one is next, with 510,000 out of work in just recent months, workers rights being taken away, no accountibility for public funds, and the lack of vision coming from this govenment for our country, what a mess. The unfortunate thing is that non of them use their brains, every elected government in Canada sercum to the yeah us to mentality, dancing at the end of the US puppet strings.

  • Barry
    July 01, 2010 - 19:49

    g-man that eye cue of a green pea as you call it seems to be up at least a few percentage points above yours.