Wednesday, March 21, 2012

The Politics of Conservatives is Big Business



Within two months Canada's ruling Conservative Party rejected government intervention in one labour dispute and leapt at the chance to intervene in another.

In January a manufacturing plant owned by Electro-Motive Diesel, a private company that had received millions in government tax breaks announced it was laying off 450 employees. On January 31st in question period when the federal government was asked to act, Industry Minister Christian Paradis said, "This is a labour dispute between a private company and a union... so the federal government cannot interfere in that matter."

Six weeks later, even though Air Canada is also a private company, the Conservative government had no problem intervening in its labour dispute by taking away their workers' right to strike. On March 12, Lisa Raitt introduced back-to-work legislation for Air Canada workers citing a strike would harm the economy.

Of course a week long strike would have harmed the air travel business in Canada, but Ontario losing 450 jobs will have comparable long-term economic repercussions, not to mention the $5 million of government money directly lost on a company that took it and ran.

The government, acting differently in two similar situations and giving contradictory justifications, may have appeared to have flip-flopped, but regardless of what Mr. Paradis says, it's not that Conservatives are against intervention, it's that they're against unions, and for big business.

The justifications may change and ultimately be confusing, as seen in the above video with Lisa Raitt criticizing the uncertainty of free markets and Christian Paradis honouring them; but the cause of government action, or inaction, in both circumstances is the same, it's not for the economy, it's for the politics.

And unfortunately for Canada, the politics of Conservatives is big business.

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