Opinion » Editorial


Something in the water maybe?



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I have heard CUPE has since issued an apology and a full retraction, but the Pique could not confirm that or find a copy of the statement for press time.

But even if CUPE pleads temporary insanity and begs Whistler for forgiveness, the damage may already be done. The story made its way into the CBC over the weekend and into The Province on Wednesday, which means it's only a matter of days before it's picked up nationally and then internationally.

Whistler has always been newsworthy, even before winning the Olympics - a snowball to the side of someone's head on New Year's Eve of 2001 became a national riot story in a matter of hours. The media likes it when Whistler succeeds, but loves it when we fail.

What news outlets will make warnings about a danger to our water supply can only be imagined at this point. Hopefully they will keep in context - an unfortunate allegation prompted by the intense negotiations between the municipality and the union - but I have my doubts.

Unions always play hardball. Teachers have gone on strike towards the end of the school year, adding urgency to negotiations by dangling end-of-year exams and college applications over our heads. NHL players refused to cave on their demands until the owners were finally at risk of canceling the entire season - a move which apparently backfired when last minute negotiations failed.

Other public sector groups have always scheduled strikes and job actions right around elections, forcing ruling parties and their challengers into a corner. Sometimes these tactics worked, and sometimes not.

When it comes to CUPE's warning, I have a feeling that this tactic will backfire, at least to the extent that the union can count on public support.

Warnings about water are not fair game in negotiations even if there is a grain of truth in what they are saying.

Water is the necessity of all necessities for life, and threats go to the heart of everyone - every parent, every pregnant family, every individual who trusts their life daily to whatever comes out off their taps will not take CUPE's statements lightly, or forgive the implications to the tourism industry.

On that note, it may be time for both parties to get back to the bargaining table, chain themselves to it, and not leave until they can reach a compromise and put this job action to an end.