Opinion » Maxed Out

Maxed Out

The age of discontent



"It was the best of times, it was the worst of times..."

While both extremes may be overstating the case, it was a time of mixed emotions. I was wrapping up the sale of my WHA townhome at Nita Lake. Having sat largely empty for the winter, I was glad to lose the responsibility of looking after it, even more glad to pass it on to someone who wanted the space.

Aside from the ridiculous dance of sorting through things that once were important but no longer seemed so, deciding what to keep, what to pass on, what to send to the cosmic dustbin in the sky, there were the technical details of moving. Cut the power, forward the mail, move the phone and Internet.

Power was easy; a change of name. Mail was impossible; there was a conspiracy at Canada Post and the doors were locked tight. Calling into question once again whether George Orwell wrote fiction or nonfiction, the toxic combination of money and power politics had mounted a successful frontal assault on the country's dwindling middle class.

My strategy for dealing with mail was simple: spend the final month contacting everyone who sent mail to my soon-to-be old address and let them know my new address. When postal workers began their rotating work stoppage, this wasn't a problem. Mail got delivered. It may have been delayed but, let's be real here, how would you know? It always seems delayed.

I don't know why postal workers started their job action. It doesn't really matter. The details are of the sort that always need to be worked out in collective bargaining. Trouble is, the management(sic) at Canada Post didn't want to bargain. They wanted to dictate. And they had an ace - that may be ass - up their sleeve. A newly-empowered Conservative majority anxious to flex their intolerant muscles would love a chance to put the boots to a public sector union, hell, any union.

So, notwithstanding the mail seemed to be moving along with its usual inefficiency, management locked out the workers. Who did the Conservatives blame for this? Duh, the workers, of course. Management goes on strike, the workers get blamed. Management keeps getting paid, the workers get the shaft.

I actually have to hand it to the Conservatives. Not only did they keep a straight face when they blamed the workers for forcing them to legislate an end to the lockout - and likely an end to collective bargaining (see Air Canada) - but they didn't go as far as some of their mouth-breathing brethren in the U.S. and outlaw collective bargaining for terms other than pay rates. Then again, it's a bit early in their rule to be praising their moderation.