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More union-bashing as Harper tries to deflect attention from Senate

October 24, 2013

Steven Barrett: Conservative Government’s omnibus bill “stacks the deck” against its employees.

Following on yesterday’s coverage of the Harper government’s stealth attack on federal public sector unions in the omnibus budget bill, Thomas Walkom of the Toronto Star observes that “Stephen Harper has a tried and true formula to placate his political base: When in trouble, attack either sex offenders or unions.”

This time, Harper has the federal public sector unions in his crosshairs. As we explained yesterday, amendments to federal labour legislation contained in the budget bill will roll the clock back on occupational health and safety standards in federally-regulated workplaces, and will virtually eviscerate collective bargaining for federal public servants. Walkom quotes Steven Barrett’s view that amendments in the bill governing interest arbitration mean that “the government will have ‘stacked the deck’ against its employees.”

In Walkom’s opinion, Harper has decided to attack government employees because the Senate scandal is hitting too close to home and there have been rumblings of disapproval among the base. Harper needs to focus the attention of his party and supporters on something else, and attacking unions is “designed to make red-meat conservatives howl in approval.”

Whether the union-bashing will be enough to distract people from the Senate scandal remains to be seen.


Steven Barrett

Practice Areas

Labour Law