Canada Post filibuster

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Jacob de Zoet
Canada Post filibuster

Hi everyone, a long time lurker posting for the first time so my apologies if I'm doing something awkward with how I'm putting this post together. Anyway, I don't see a thread on this so, I thought I'd start one. Just had to vent about that s.o.b. Rae; he's one to talk about "traps" isn't he, especially since he's doing just what the Tories hope he'll spend the next two years doing, attacking the NDP. It's not surprising in the least, but no less infuriating and despicable for being perfectly predictable, right down to the former "boy-wonder" (elected at age 29) indulging in the NDP "youngsters" meme that even the mainstream media is starting to give a rest. “There was an effort yesterday to amend the arbitration sections of the law, to set up what’s called a “mediation/arbitration” process – but in the end the government decided to stick with its final offer selection and very strict directions to the arbitrator,” he told The Globe. That was going on yesterday afternoon and evening. Important to stress government crafted the procedural motion and closure in such a way as to allow a filibuster, and NDP took the bait. I guess the idea of slumber parties and all nighters has an appeal to them, but the exercise is “shambolic”. Help me understand, Bob, the govt refused to accept amendments to their labour-stomping legislation, so the response is to-what?-let it pass without a whimper. I guess for Bob Rae 2.0 - the new improved, come back to corporate jesus Rae - it's okay to be against something unjust, but actually fighting it, even with impossible odds just jejeune,eh? http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/politics/ottawa-notebook/canada-post...

Sean in Ottawa

I don't think most Canadians understand what is at stake here. I'll lay out a brief summary of that (in my view).

Every social program that exists in Canada is implicated-- education, pensions, healthcare. All of them.

Those without a union job earning perhaps minimum wage or who are retired or unemployed need to think about this before railing against the union.

Here is my logic:

To have these programs you need a tax base. The government has increasingly let the most well off and businesses off with tax cuts citing productivity and competitiveness. Even if this were not happening, no country without a substantial "middle" income population has ever been able to support social programs. I would argue that all social programs are dependent on a middle income population both to pay for them and to fight for those programs.

The attack on unions and these rollbacks is an attack on what is left of a rapidly declining middle income population. When it is gone those programs will follow. Those earning minimum wage may think they do not benefit from the only slightly higher wages that postal workers and other unionized workers earn but in fact they depend on them for every social program they benefit from.

The city of Toronto according to a report from December 2010 went from a predominantly "middle class" city to one characterized by small numbers of rich neighborhoods of well-off people in the best areas and large areas of substantially immigrant (non-voting) and lower income Canadians. People need to understand that the tax base that supports social programs is being eroded not just by tax cuts to the most wealthy and business but by the disappearance of middle income employment.

As well, most Canadians do not fully understand the role that unions play not just in advocacy for social programs but also in the research that supports and inspires them. When you have wholesale rollbacks where the union has nothing but concessions at the bargaining table a great deal more is at stake. People who have less and who are inclined to be jealous of what union workers make should think not only about what unions have won for them such as minimum wage advancement (something that has been discussed at length here and elsewhere) they need to consider the role these wages play in our social structure, economy and government financing. The relationship between education, healthcare and other programs is much closer to those slightly better wages than many people realize.

Jacob de Zoet

Thanks for your post, Sean; I think it's spot on. Here in the States (where I've been working for a number of years)of all places, there seems to be a dawning awareness - at least in some places like Wisconsin - about the stakes involved in the assault on public sector unions. By contrast, a lot of Canadians are deeply complacent or ignorant about the roles the unions play as bulwarks of the middle-class or, to judge by the comments section of the G&M, much worse. This legislation is obviously about more than just Canada Post and CUPW; it's Harper delivering a dead fish wrapped in a bullet-proof vest to working people in EVERY sector of the economy, that this majority govt will grind them down if they so much as squeak about the crumbs employers can now to offer them with impunity. Rae seems to think he's too clever a boy to fall into the "trap" of defending working people's rights. He can pat himself on the back all he wants, but someone else has to start to fight. Whether the smart alecks like Rae realize or not the war has started. This filibuster, even if it can't stop the legislation, is as a good a place to begin as any, but going forward, I hope the NDP opposition will start strategizing about how to take the fight back to the Tories not on the govt's terms, but rather on terms of their choosing as well.

Glenl

The health of the middle class determines the health of a society.

MegB

I can't be unbiased about this issue - my Mum, brother and several Aunts and Uncles worked for Canada Post when it was a crown corporation, and after it was sold off, piecemeal, so that they could lower wages and skimp on benefits.

The outrage I feel towards the federal gov't over their proposed back-to-work legislation with its completely inappropriate and illegal inclusion of a wage hike smaller than what the Corp is willing to negotiate, is beyond words.  The locking out of rotating strikers shows such contempt for the collective agreement and reveals that the CUPW workers do not want to strike but are forced into an adversarial position.

The fillibuster isn't helping.  Surely there must be a legal argument that can stop this.

6079_Smith_W

As an aside, there is a similar situation playing itself out in the Saskatchewan legislature right now. 

http://www.thestarphoenix.com/business/Wall+recalls+MLAs+over+crop+insur...

Wall has the power to stop this strike without recalling the legislature  - by settling this two year old dispute, changing the province's "take it or leave it" stance, and adding two percent to the wage increase for these 470 workers. 

Somehow I think political theatre in an election year is more attractive.

And I think there is more to it for Harper as well. After all, he accuses Layton of bias, but it was his government which had talks with Air Canada before that other strike began.

The problem with this kind of abuse of the situation,  and scuttling of negotiations is that sooner or later it is going to break if people feel they have no choice in the matter. 

Perhaps part of the strategy here is to crmiinalize labour by destroying any legal means of barganing.

(edit)

And Rebecca. my great uncle worked for Canada Post during the depression, and I remember it being spoken of as one of the rare solid rocks for workers at a time when everything else was falling apart. Of course, that was the better part of a century ago, but still, it is a great contrast to today.

 

duncan cameron

Thanks for opening this Jacob with appropriate remarks about the Liberal interim leader. Terrific analysis from Sean-in-Ottawa.

I have been watching CPAC. The NDP is performing magnificently in the House. Jack Layton gave a superb speech. It has been years since a substantive parliamentary debate of the this nature has been held on labour issues.The Conservatives have nothing to say, as should be obvious to anyone watching. Maybe the media will start to pay attention. So far they keep calling the lock-out a strike, even on CBC and Radio-Canada.

Rebecca, for me, the best hope is that public opinion will be touched by what is said in the debate, starting with labour people themselves. The NDP are showing where they stand on the economy: with working people. We have waited years for class politics to capture public attention (other than as in the version that investors are always right). Mobilizing labour behind the NDP is the only way the country is going to quit being a corporate run place, and become a democracy. I hope this debate ignites CUPW support for NDP based political action, and that the movement spreads across all the CLC affiliated unions. This is the time to mobilize, educate, and support each other.

dacckon dacckon's picture

The filibuster to me is not as important as the way other unions decide to band around cupw.

But it is interesting how the liberals and greeny are agitated against the NDP's filibuster. Other than that its getting boring. Nice speeches though.

Sean in Ottawa

Other unions are publicly supporting CUPW-- can you expand on what you mean by your first comment?

If you are just underlining how important that is then -- yes for sure. If you think other unions should be doing more can you explain how?

Unionist

Great post, Sean - as usual - the union movement needs to analyze each of these events besides linking arms in solidarity against each and every attack. What is at stake is a massive transfer of wealth from workers to the most rich and powerful, as well as a dismantling of both private and public benefit plans previously won through workers' struggles. In this war, we have few if any political allies, and much misunderstanding by those who are our allies.

Rebecca West wrote:

The outrage I feel towards the federal gov't over their proposed back-to-work legislation with its completely inappropriate and illegal inclusion of a wage hike smaller than what the Corp is willing to negotiate, is beyond words. 

With respect, Rebecca, that's the least dangerous (if most obvious and "in-your-face") aspect of this bill. It's sort of like an employer putting an outlandish concession on the table (among others), then at the last minute withdrawing it, so that a weakened union can cry "victory". Do not rule out the possibility of the Conservatives "caving" on this point - although, given the feeble nature of the opposition in Parliament, they may not need to. Every single other aspect of the bill (the imposition of arbitration, final offer selection, and especially the unprecedented expanse of "directives" to the arbitrator) are more dangerous than this one element.

Quote:
The locking out of rotating strikers shows such contempt for the collective agreement and reveals that the CUPW workers do not want to strike but are forced into an adversarial position.

It's absolutely normal. It's no big deal, it's part of the battle. When some CP Rail unions launched rotating strikes in 1995, CP responded by locking them out at each location where they struck until the end. The CBC did exactly the same thing (in fact, with the same VP of HR in both cases) in 2005. There are many other examples. CUPW obviously knew the risk of rotating walkouts and were prepared to confront a lockout by Canada Post. What is offensive, authoritarian, and contrary to human rights and international law, is the intervention by government on the side of an employer who has locked out its employees in a sector where there is no immediate and serious danger to the health or safety of the public (which is the criterion found for lawful strikes in the Canada Labour Code and which is pretty close to the criterion recognized by the International Labour Organization for government intervention in work disputes).

Quote:
The fillibuster isn't helping.

Agreed - especially when it's not accompanied by a full and accurate analysis of what's wrong with the government intervention. The NDP refuses to take a fully principled stand on this issue, and focuses instead on (unfortunately) the same issue you did (the wages being less than the employer's last offer), and "not enough time" being given to the parties to bargain, etc. Nothing about non-intervention in any dispute where health and safety of the public aren't at stake - and not enough about the ugly intervention in the mandate of the arbitrator.

Still - as others have pointed out - the filibuster is better than nothing. When injustice is done, people must stand up. Otherwise, many people wouldn't even know there's a difference of opinion on the issue.

Quote:
Surely there must be a legal argument that can stop this.

No. The Supreme Court has made it pretty clear that Parliament can go this far in crushing collective bargaining rights without violating the Charter. The only way to stop this is through organizing, organizing, and more organizing - through struggle, through unity, and when conditions are ripe - through mass defiance.

Meanwhile, we need tactics. If I were CUPW right now, I would announce the following:

Quote:
"We do not want service stopped to the public, and we never did. Therefore, as of midnight, we are prepared to return to our jobs - voluntarily - and resume full service to Canadians. Furthermore, if the government withdraws its draft legislation, we will publicly commit not to engage in any work stoppages before the end of this calendar year. Instead, we will resume negotiations, including mediators agreed between the parties, to work through the complex issues facing us. They need cooperation - not brute force - to resolve.

"Will Canada Post now make the same commitment, and lift its lockout at midnight tonight?"

ravenj

The NDP is spending a lot of political capital on this issue (and rightly so).  This pins the party firmly with a labour cause.  Hopefully the nay sayers complaining about the NDP moving right will remember this. 

Bärlüer

Unionist wrote:

Quote:
The fillibuster isn't helping.

Agreed - especially when it's not accompanied by a full and accurate analysis of what's wrong with the government intervention. The NDP refuses to take a fully principled stand on this issue, and focuses instead on (unfortunately) the same issue you did (the wages being less than the employer's last offer), and "not enough time" being given to the parties to bargain, etc. Nothing about non-intervention in any dispute where health and safety of the public aren't at stake - and not enough about the ugly intervention in the mandate of the arbitrator.

In complete agreement.

Unionist wrote:

Quote:
Surely there must be a legal argument that can stop this.

No. The Supreme Court has made it pretty clear that Parliament can go this far in crushing collective bargaining rights without violating the Charter.

I can't agree with this. Judicial challenges of back-to-work/wage-fixing legislation—in light of the new constitutional framework ushered in by Health Services—is an area of the law that has yet to be developed. Just in Quebec, the 2005 Bill 142 (Law 43) that imposed wages for public sector workers and the recent back-to-work/work-conditions-fixing legislation for jurists and prosecutors are both the subject of a challenge; no decision has been issued yet. Off the top of my head, the part of the Harper government's 2009 Budget Implementation Act that legislated wage increases is also being challenged.

The legal grounds for such challenges are serious. The contentious aspect in several of these cases will likely be not so much the establishment that the freedom of association has been "substantially interfered" with, but rather whether such an interference was a "reasonable limit demonstrably justified in a free and democratic society", as s. 1 of the Charter stipulates.

remind remind's picture

Think the filibuster is helping Canadians, perhaps not CUPW at this point, but it has been a very long time since worker rights were argued about in the HoC.

Had the Liberals be opposition they would have collectively agreed with Harper. And there would have been NO dissenting opinions raised at all for Canadians to hear and think about.

milo204

i agree, for once it's nice to see labour issues defended by a political party, rather than just going along with whatever the government does like the liberals would have done.

is it going to change the way the government legislates back to work? probably not, but it's good for people to see and might help change/spur debate amongst people about work, unions, etc.

knownothing knownothing's picture

Here in Saskatchewan Labour has been on fire for the last year, the federal action is just supplemental from our view, NDP is providing a stark contrast to the Torys,

epaulo13 epaulo13's picture

Sean in Ottawa wrote:

If you think other unions should be doing more can you explain how?

..to be asking this question i believe is telling. not just for this board but for the union and left movements as a whole. other than lip service what more can we do? i believe we are stuck. stuck because of the leadership position in the union movement has been vote ndp. and that the ndp positions have embraced corporate and market dominance.

..for more than a decade unions have been picked off one at a time. as has been our commons. do we need to study this more than we already have? where is the fight back? where is the plan? we are stuck when we won't even admit that our leaders are failing us. 

 

laine lowe laine lowe's picture

Here is what my union PSAC (retired now) is doing:

The Official Opposition NDP is conducting a filibuster in the House of Commons to defend free collective bargaining and to oppose back-to-work legislation (Bill C-6) aimed at the Canadian Union of Postal Workers (CUPW). If this legislation passes as is, CUPW will face a biased arbitration process called Final Offer Selection that favours Canada Post. Incredibly, the legislation also sets salary increases that are less than  Canada Post's last wage offer.

CUPW members and the Official Opposition need your help. We are asking you to send messages of support to CUPW ([email protected]). If you live in an area represented by a New Democrat Member of Parliament (search here for your MP), they would appreciate any stories you can provide about negotiations around pensions or two tier wages that penalize new workers. Those stories will help the MPs wage the filibuster as they will speak about them in the House of Commons. These letters/stories can be emailed to [email protected]

As with the strike at Air Canada, the lock out at Canada Post is an attack on the many gains made by unions over many years for their members. But it is also an attack on new workers who are being told they don’t deserve the same standard of living that we enjoy.

To express your concerns about the government's actions, please click here to send an email to Prime Minister Harper and Minister of Labour Lisa Raitt: http://www.canadianlabour.ca/action-center/no-two-tier-wages-tell-pm

dacckon dacckon's picture

Perhaps the filibuster is helping canadians who are actually watching cpac, others will not hear the logical arguments put forth by the ndp.

 

Oh look Pat Martin is here, prepare for impact.

remind remind's picture

Does not matter, as 1 person will influence about 1000 others it will get around.

duncan cameron

The confrontation between CUPW and the employer will not be settled by the NDP action.That is not the point, even though Bob Rae seems to think that's why the NDP is wasting "our" time. The filibuster is a parliamentary tactic. The Cons have the votes, the NDP want them to pay a price for exercising power. The price is they have to explain what back-to-work legislation means, and the NDP gets to do the same.
Unionist if you had heard Jack Layton's speech you would have liked the way he characterized the treatment of workers in Canada by the Cons, and by Canada Post. He talked about how the Cons want to set Canadians against the post office workers, young workers against older workers, how short-changing workers creates the growing inequalities all around us, and destroys collective well-being. He and his party want to build support for unions, and public services, though non-stop speaking. I find this heartening. It also gets the 103 members on their feet and speaking to the country, in both languages. Workers across Canada can write in and have their stories read. This is pretty good in creating links between parliament and people, even if it only goes so far. Overall the filibuster rates our support. As political engagement goes I like what I have seen until now. I think it is a good start to resisting four years of Harper Con rule.

duncan cameron

BTW Pat Martin is talking about 1921 and the attempt to lock-up J.S. Woodsworth. He sees a the Cons preparing the privatization of Canada Post.

Unionist

Bärlüer wrote:

Unionist wrote:
The Supreme Court has made it pretty clear that Parliament can go this far in crushing collective bargaining rights without violating the Charter.

I can't agree with this. Judicial challenges of back-to-work/wage-fixing legislation—in light of the new constitutional framework ushered in by Health Services—is an area of the law that has yet to be developed.

On reflection - I'm wrong, Bärlüer is right. I combined two things in my mind: 1. The fact that no court (to my knowledge) has ever invalidated back-to-work legislation. 2. The Supreme Court decisions from the late 80s saying the right to bargain and right to strike aren't Charter rights. I'm not a lawyer, but am prepared to cautiously accept that the Court's reversal of its old reasons in Health Services may possibly, maybe, someday, result in a finding that Canada should bloody well follow international standards and not ban strikes and impose collective agreements where there is no "immediate and serious danger to the health and safety of the public". I'll try to be more optimistic!

But in the final analysis, I still think it will be up to us, not the courts, to defeat these attacks. That part, I'm far more optimistic about.

So, what do you all think about my suggested course of action for CUPW?

 

 

laine lowe laine lowe's picture

I am heartened by finally seeing a unified front and actual debate. The media coverage has been shoddy as expected. Even among progressive bloggers, this is barely registering a whimper. Rae should be supporting the filibuster and showing a spine. Anyway, with this taking up "their" time, the media has no choice but to cover it.

N.Beltov N.Beltov's picture

clap clap

knownothing knownothing's picture

Mathieu Ravignat is the best! Good to see Pat Martin and the other MPS gather round him for his rant!

dacckon dacckon's picture

Will anyone save/post the highlights of their speeches, I don't want to watch the whole thing lol.

Sean in Ottawa

Unionist-- in response to your question-- I think your suggestion has merit in taking the purpose out of the legislation -- knowing the legislation is coming and the employer is not talking there is nothing to be gained by not doing it. As well it might help inspire a more nuanced interpretation of things by the public.

I had asked about polling -- I heard on the CBC a poll was done and 30% oppose the back to work legislation and 70% support it. Sounds bad but I actually thought it would be worse. There is education work to do but with a base of 30% it is not as bad.

I am not sure that a commitment to the end of the year is essential though and I would not take a Christmas mail strike option off the table. Offering 3 months grace would be okay-- with goodwill a deal can be found in that time. It would tell parliament that it can have its summer break. But this is a quibble-- the idea is a good one. Some might object as it is a concession with a gun to their heads but that is the point isn't it? People need to see that this is not bargaining when a government does this.

6079_Smith_W

In the time since I made that last post (#5) the SGEU caved and accepted the government's first and final offer of 5.5%, in the face of a big show trial in the legislature against the enemies of the people.

Sooner or later, that tactic is going to fail.

 

duncan cameron

If I understood correctly, at one point Jack Layton asked the government if they would wait six months, and then introduce the legislation, instead of shutting down negotiations by fiat.

Unionist

duncan cameron wrote:
If I understood correctly, at one point Jack Layton asked the government if they would wait six months, and then introduce the legislation, instead of shutting down negotiations by fiat.

Maybe, but how does that stop the lockout and no postal services? The union should reach out and be flexible on tactics, in order to win on the key points.

duncan cameron

Unionist I do think there would have been a lock-out unless the $600,000 a year CEO had prior assurances from the government that the legislation was ready to go as needed. I do not know enough about labour relations to comment on how the union should be conducting itself with the employer in this context. I do like the NDP standing up and making itself heard, and think that may encourage others to resist Harper.

Makes me think the STOP HARPER from the Senate page set an example, and the filibuster may as well also. 

Tom Walkom opines that the NDP are winning the symbolic battle. Ignore the title the editor put on it.

http://www.thestar.com/news/canada/politics/article/1014732--walkom-in-t...

David Young

I am employed by Canada Post, and have been walking a picket line since the lock-out commenced on June 16th.

I could not be prouder of the job the NDP M.P.s have been doing.

After the terrible letdown of seeing Gerald Keddy get re-elected once again despite the huge effort to elect Gordon Earle here in South Shore-St. Margaret's, knowing that there is an official opposition who really opposes this government's agenda and doesn't cow-tow like the previous Liberal opposition gives me hope for the future.

I know that we'll be back to work around this coming Tuesday, but that doesn't mean I won't be letting Keddy know how I feel about Bill C-6.

I'm planning on mailing (free of charge to an M.P.!) a screw taped to a piece of cardboard, right next to the letter U.

Or will that be too complicated for him to understand?

 

Polunatic2

I had a chance to catch about an hour of the filibuster. I see the Harperites are into full redbaiting mode - now referring to the NDP as "the Socialist Party".  Expect that to be a recurring theme. 

The Cons are now taking the position that the postal workers should have the right to go over the heads of their bargaining team and vote on the employers last offer. For some reason, all the NDPers have avoided responding to this demand. Not sure why. Overall, I'm impressed with the NDPers performance and tactic. The Cons aren't used to paying a price for their abuses. And even if this is just an "inconvenience" for them, it sends a message.  

I did hear the member from Pontiac talking about two-tiered systems and make a reference to pensions so I'm not sure that the wage offer is the only issue?

duncan cameron

David, keep us posted (so to speak) on how things develop on the picket line. Great to have you here, you are among friends for sure.

dacckon dacckon's picture

Cpac is getting funny now. NDP is now willing to talk, conservatives are now into full union bashing mode.

 

 some cons are getting "letters" from postal workers in some backwater in Alberta saying that cupw is somehow undemocratic (even though they voted to strike). In general the debate is more offtopic.

dacckon dacckon's picture

Conservative mp just called the NDP a marxist-leninist party

 

LOL, oh god. I hope someone has a clip of that guy who said this with his funny accent.

M. Spector M. Spector's picture

Cindy McCallum Miller wrote:

Canada Post Corporation (CPC) intends to roll back decades of progress and introduce a new category of more highly exploited workers into the urban workforce. They are overtly encouraging existing employees to sacrifice their future co-workers in the name of management's "Modern Post" scheme.

Everywhere we look we can see how corporations and governments are attempting to force concessions on workers and attack fundamental principles of workplace safety, job and economic security, reducing wages and benefits to an unacceptable level. What's happening at Canada Post is no exception. CPC wants to gut our collective agreement for the next wave of workers as they plan for a future where workers have weaker rights, benefits and protection.

With sixteen consecutive profitable years for CPC and the Modern Post as the backdrop to negotiations, CUPW's demands are simple. They fall under the themes of respect, equality and the right to share in the benefits of technology. In contrast, CPC wants to roll portions of our collective agreement back to the 1970s.

CPC intends to replace our long-held sick leave credit system with a drastically inferior short term disability (STD) plan controlled by the financial firm Manulife. Already imposed on other CPC bargaining units, the STD plan has generated numerous complaints and complications and invades medical privacy. CPC plans to penalize injured workers by reducing compensation to 75% of our income at the same time as new equipment and work methods are being introduced, which will lead to more work-related injuries for postal workers.

Another important goal of CPC is to change the collective agreement so that employees hired after the signing of the new contract would be paid at a much lower rate and be required to work seven years to reach the same maximum rate that current employees earn. New employees would also have to work longer before seeing an increase in vacation leave, and would have an inferior pension plan. CPC also plans to reduce the maximum amount of vacation time for postal workers from seven weeks to six weeks for workers with 28 years of service. These concessions violate CUPW's fundamental principle of equality.

The stakes are high for CUPW, the labour movement and the future of public services, including the post office. During recent minority Tory governments, Harper's ministers said they had no plans to privatize the post office, but allowed partial deregulation, preparing for the future. CUPW's diligence in working with communities has been an important strategy to counter attempts by capitalist think-tanks to diminish the importance of postal service. Now that the Tories have a majority, we will see what they really want to do to postal services.

The Modern Post's focus is serving large volume mailer corporations. CUPW's focus is ensuring the people of Canada and Quebec have access to quality service that meets their diverse needs.   Canada Post's transformation of the post office into "the Modern Post" includes new equipment, delivery methods and reduced labour costs. Winnipeg's new processing plant was slated to be the corporation's flagship, the first centre to have all aspects of the transformation implemented.  Despite union objections, CPC imposed a fatally flawed "multiple bundle" delivery model on letter carriers, forcing workers to work unsafely, balancing bulky, oversize mail on their arms while they carry letters and ad-mail in their hands. Groups of Winnipeg carriers rebelled against the forced conversion to the new method by walking off the job on Nov. 22, 2010, sparking a spirit of resistance among postal workers across Canada and Quebec.

[url=http://www.newsocialist.org/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id...

 

duncan cameron

Radio-Canada are reporting negotiations are going on between the NDP and the Cons over changes to the law.

Jacob de Zoet

People on this board express a lot of justified grievances with the NDP when its called for, and I think there is room in this instance to wish, as Unionist does, that the NDP would focus more of this debate on challenging the fundamentals of this bill (contravention of the rights of workers in a labour dispute where no clear and immediate danger to the health and safety of the public can be remotely demonstrated) in order to effectively contextualize its particulars (the salary and pension aspects of the legislation), but overall, it think this filibuster ought to remind people of why we should be glad that the NDP, for all its imperfections, exists. 

Duncan remarks in post #30 are germane here: the NDP doesn't have the votes to win the immediate battle inside parliament, and it is beside the point; the fact of the filibuster itself does extract a price from the tories for their actions in the way that Duncan points out, and in doing so it partly delivers on the potential of an NDP official opposition to by some time and open up a space - both in the media and hopefully the wider Canadian society by extension - for labour and allied social movements to organize, colesce, and fight.  It's not everything, but it by no means a small thing either, not at all.  I mean, it's impossible for me to imagine (without an assist from some really good drugs anyway) a debate like this, with speeches like the ones we are hearing from some of the NDP MPs, in the U.S. Congress, where in similar circumstances, politicians including platoons of Democrats would be falling over themselves to apply the screws to workers.   And, it's this refreshing, and precious, instance of a procedural tactic inside of parliament helping to force open space and time outside of it to mount an instance of resistance to the neo-liberal program of relentlessly rolling back the welfare state that a self-satisfied git like Rae is dismissing with a few cheap punchlines about "slumber parties" and "sleepovers".

Malcolm Malcolm's picture

Practically speaking, the bill is going to pass . . . eventually.  If the NDP can get some concessions (ie, dropping the insulting provision that sets the wage settlement lower than the last offer), then the filibuster will have been as much of a success as the filibuster realistically could be.

Of course, the irony is that this legislation isn't necessary in order to get the mail moving.  All the government has to do is have the Minister Responsible for Canada Post (Denis Label) call the President of Canada  Post (Deepak Chopra) and tell him to end the lock out.

Uncle John

If the NDP is Marxist-Leninist then I am made of sugar and spice and everything nice.

However I must highly commend the NDP for fighting for the CUPW workers. People who I know who would normally be anti-union are saying the workers are not on strike and they are being locked out and the whole thing is a bloody con.

Tories have probably calculated that no one will remember this some time before the next election.

It is going to be a long 5 years....

Aristotleded24

Jacob de Zoet wrote:
People on this board express a lot of justified grievances with the NDP when its called for, and I think there is room in this instance to wish, as Unionist does, that the NDP would focus more of this debate on challenging the fundamentals of this bill (contravention of the rights of workers in a labour dispute where no clear and immediate danger to the health and safety of the public can be remotely demonstrated) in order to effectively contextualize its particulars (the salary and pension aspects of the legislation), but overall, it think this filibuster ought to remind people of why we should be glad that the NDP, for all its imperfections, exists.

I think it does matter specifically that it is the NDP directly across the aisle and not the Liberals. Those who said that Harper has a majority so all hope is lost have been proven wrong by the NDP in the last few days, and hopefully it will result in the Harper government backing down and taking a more reasonable position. What would have happened if the Liberals were still the main opposition? They probably would have folded by now. Does anybody have any direct memory of how things were in the Mulroney days, when he faced a Liberal opposition? Were they as feisty as the NDP are now? Funny enough, even though the Liberals benefited from the anti-Mulroney sentiment, they never did get around to reversing the damage Mulroney did.

There is also clear evidence of the difference that having a Liberal versus an NDP opposition to a right-wing government makes in Manitoba and Ontario. Both were governed by right-wing Premiers. In Manitoba, the NDP was the opposition, and when the Conservatives lost, the NDP actively took steps to reverse that damage, although more, bolder, steps should still be taken. In Ontario, the Liberals were the opposition, and when the Conservatives lost, the Liberals didn't do much about the damage the Conservatives did.

David Young

Uncle John wrote:

Tories have probably calculated that no one will remember this some time before the next election.

It is going to be a long 5 years....

If Harper sets the next election date as the fall of 2015, that means it's 4+ years untill the next election.

The new contract that will be imposed on C.U.P.W. will be a 4-year contract, due to expire on February 1, 2015.

We posties will be reminding Canadians of what happened during these times, have no worries about that!

 

Unionist

Excellent intervention by Nathan Cullen about 1/2 hour ago.

I must say, it does the heart good to hear people standing up in public and supporting the rights of workers - and giving new young MPs the right start on political life. Bravo to the NDP for doing so!

ravenj

Knowing the filibuster is just delaying the inevitable, I think this is great for the newly elected NDP MP's.  I have now watched many of them standing up and delivering long speeches, and they seem to be comfortable doing so.  Speaking to a mostly empty chamber probably helps.

This event also provides a foundation to build their collective "war-story", helping with the Orange team-building process.

JeffWells

knownothing wrote:

Mathieu Ravignat is the best! Good to see Pat Martin and the other MPS gather round him for his rant!

 

Does anyone have a link to Ravignat's speech? I haven't found it published yet by Hansard. I caught some of the apopleptic Conservative reaction and don't want to miss it.

Lou Arab Lou Arab's picture

Some other great moments:

Charlie Angus' speech this morning (around 8-9 am Ottawa time) was inspired.  I had no idea how awesome this MP was.  In particular, he savaged the Tories on the assorted red baiting they have been engaging in, and his response to remarks from the MP for Fort McMurray were brilliant.

Brian Masse also delivered fantastic remarks this morning.

I don't speak French - so I have to listen to a lot of our new MPs through translators - and there is no doubt a lot of retorical flourish is lost.  However - remarks on Friday night by Eve Peclet showed a real spark from this young MP.

I was also very impressed by Alexandrine Latendresse (Sat am) in particular watch the Q&A after her speech where she shows no fear taking on the Tories who try to shoot her down.  I wish I could say I had that kind of spirit when I was in my twenties (or even today in my forties).


Polunatic2

CPAC is like the NDP channel. Very refreshing and as noted, a good opportunity to hear from the new MPs and some of the veterans I'm not familiar with. Ginny Sims gave a great speech including a response to Kenney's complaint that CUPW picketed and shut down the Canada Immigration office in Halifax for some time.
Another MP shot down the Con's "let CUPW members vote on the employers latest offer" rant by pointing out that the bargaining team has a mandate of 90+% while the Cons only have a mandate off 39%.
Whether the public agrees with the NDP or not, they're seeing them stand up for what they believe and against the Cons regressive agenda and that'a always a good thing.

Sean in Ottawa

I doubt that Canadians in general will remember this come the next election. But that is not the major value of it. Some groups will remember:

1) The Conservatives will know that the NDP is not the Liberal party and will stand up on worker's rights

2) The MPs themselves are reminding each other what they are here for and this experience they will remember.

3) And the the most important may be-- that quite a few unionized workers will remember who stood up for them.

4) Activists wondering if the NDP is just another mainstream capitalist party like all the others are getting an answer.

The NDP of course must continue to behave this way-- but I think they will and I think the Quebec influence on the party is already helping. They may be new in parliament but it looks like they are wonderful representatives of the soul and purpose of the party.

Sean in Ottawa

Perhaps it may be a good idea to remind people that unions play a greater role in Quebec than in other provinces with a unionization rate at somewhere close to 40% of workers. Unionization rates in Quebec are higher than anywhere else in Canada. If I remember correctly other provinces range between 25 and 30%. But that is not all-- I understand understanding and support for unions is also higher in Quebec among the general population.

Again another reason to consider that a stronger Quebec influence on the NDP is extremely positive and grounding.

Those thinking the NDP will vanish in Quebec in the next election will be sorely disappointed. That would only happen if the NDP did something hugely wrong to irritate Quebec and given the affinity for the party to widely held values there and the influence of Quebec over the party, I suggest that is quite unlikely. It is not lost on people that the next leadership is also likely to result in a leader from Quebec. That may not be Mulcair given the wide choice that will come from the province either.

Boom Boom Boom Boom's picture

My only fault with CPAC is that it's not closed captioned for the hearing disabled except during Question Period and a few of their regular evening shows.

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