Editorials - Nov. 11, 2022
All for naught?
As we pause to remember the veterans who fought for our freedoms today, it is important to recognize that the battle against forces that would end those freedoms is still in existence.
A recent Angus Reid poll revealed that 27 per cent of Canadians would entertain the idea of authoritarianism for the country. In fact, 16 per cent of those polled thought that having a strong leader who does not bother with parliament or elections would be either good or great. The respondents south of the border were even more enthusiastic about authoritarianism, with 38 per cent of Americans polled not rejecting it, including 23 per cent who would be enthusiastic about a leader who didn’t bother with elections.
As people become disenchanted with their governments, far right-wing parties can play into those views promising simple solutions to complex issues. Since the majority of people have some level of distrust for the government, as the world around us becomes unstable with pandemics, high inflation and recessions, the rise of extremism is much more feasible. We need to reflect on the high price that our fathers and mothers, grandfathers and grandmothers, uncles and aunts, and neighbours paid only a few generations ago to stop an authoritarian regime from marching through Europe and do what we can to preserve democracy, which Winston Churchill called “the worst form of government - except for all the others that have been tried.” – DS
A worry for all
On Monday, Premier Doug Ford extended an “olive branch” to the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE), offering to rescind the decision to use the province’s notwithstanding clause, effectively making strike action illegal for education workers. CUPE then took strike action off the table and vowed to negotiate. Regardless of how the talks play out, the actions of Ford’s government have already done enough to sound the alarm bells for many across the province.
The threat of a general strike in the province shows that many employees, both those in unions and those who aren’t, are supportive of the striking education workers, but the real concern for many was Ford and his government essentially crafting a loophole through which the government can slither in order to avoid work action in the future with any union, regardless of the circumstances. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has come out hard against Ford, saying an extreme measure like using the notwithstanding clause should only be used in “the most exceptional circumstances”, though Trudeau, at this moment, should perhaps be sitting out debates over possible government overreach.
Ford and Minister of Education Stephen Lecce have made it clear that they want to keep classes in session, regardless of what it takes, but a blatant attempt to pluck the right to strike from education workers is never going to win many popularity contests. The replicative nature of the provincial government’s manoeuvre, however, should be of concern. Will Ford and his colleagues simply play the notwithstanding clause trump card any time they find themselves in tough labour negotiations? That should worry most Ontarians and the outpouring of support for the education workers in question shows that it does. – SL
A rock and a hard place
Members of two different local municipal councils had very different opinions of staff wage increases tied to the consumer price index (CPI) in the past week, offering two different takes.
At Ashfield-Colborne-Wawanosh (ACW) Township Council’s Nov. 1 meeting, soon-to-be Deputy-Mayor Bill Vanstone said he was concerned with a large increase in wages. Currently, ACW’s cost-of-living adjustment for staff is based directly on the CPI, which is 6.7 per cent this year. Fellow council members and staff, however, pointed out that the CPI is a double-edged sword and can result in little or no increases, or even a negative impact, which is then subtracted from the next wage increase. Vanstone said that the municipality should look at putting a cap on the adjustments since 6.7 per cent is too great an increase to pass on to taxpayers.
Morris-Turnberry Councillor Kevin Freiburger, however, felt his municipality should go the other way. Morris-Turnberry currently bases its adjustment increases on the CPI, but with a cap of 2.5 per cent to prevent significant jumps like this year’s. Freiburger, however, felt that wasn’t fair, pointing out it could make it difficult to hire or retain staff when other municipalities are offering greater wage increases.
It’s a difficult question to answer, because ratepayers, especially those in the private sector, may not see the same increases as their public sector counterparts, meaning they are hit harder by inflation and then charged more in taxes. At the same time, however, municipalities can’t be competitive with lower wages. Either municipality may have it right, or the answer could be somewhere in between, like a five per cent cap, but only time will tell. – JDS