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transit strike

Labour settlements – as they should be

Breaking news out of Ottawa this morning that the Via Rail strike is over almost as soon as it started. Both sides have agreed to a mediated settlement and service will be back on “track” starting today.

IMO, the engineers really did not have a choice but strike as they had been without a contract for 2 1/2 years. And the tactic worked – as we can see this morning. Contrast this to the protracted and bitter OC Transpo strike a few months ago where neither side was willing to give an inch. Instead of reaching a sane and mature agreement that would not consist of fighting a battle on the backs of riders, both the ATU and the City of Ottawa decided instead to behave like two kids in a sandbox fighting over a toy bulldozer.

Congrats to both the Union and Via Rail for showing us how labour relations should be carried on.

I wonder if the City of Toronto and their municipal workers are paying attention?

One sidebar to this: Canadian Press and broke this story on their websites well over three hours before the two so-called “major” media outlets ( and… cutbacks in action, folks.


Soviet Russians for Harper!

Since it seems that some folks aren’t buying the traditional ReformCon attack ad, the Harperites are trying something new

I new message slimed its way into my inbox last week from a group calling itself Republicans For Ignatieff. It purports to be a collection of American Republicans who are rooting for Iggy to get into the PM’s chair. My Harper-sense clicked in as I thought it extremely improbable that:

a)    Any Republican would know Iggy’s name
b)    Any Republican would know that we have a Prime Minister and not a President.
c)    Any Republican would have ever heard of “Canada”.

Upon going to the site that the message pointed to, I read lots of text about how Iggy was much more “America-friendly” than Harper and how his values more closely aligned with those of the GOP. I’m not going to repeat the rubbish here. You can go to the site to see it for yourself.

However, I can’t let this go by without some kind of retort. So, I proudly present the launch of a new lobby group that I like to call…

Soviet Russians for Harper


Until the wall came down, the Soviet Union and Canada had the closest bi-national relationship in the world. Yes, we hated each other’s hockey teams, but we still respected them.

Stephen Harper, 1997


* Russia and Canada share the polar icecap
* For the past 36 years we’ve been playing hockey against one another.
* And, thanks to the tar sands, Canada is an ally with a growing supply of energy.

In short, we’re friends, we’re neighbours and we’re allies.

Now more than ever, Russia needs a Canadian Prime Minister we can count on. A Canadian Prime Minister who knows us. A Canadian Prime Minister who loves us.


“Now, this is coming from a Canadian who is not even a citizen of your country, but someone who has loved this country.”

Stephen Harper

(Lecture to the Russian Naval Academy. March 2001.)


Stephen Harper is the best choice for Canadian Prime Minister.

Although born in Canada, Harper has always been fascinated by Soviet Russia.

* As a young man, he believed in the Fatherland in a way that Canada never allowed.


“I loved my own country, but I believed in the Soviet system in a way that Canada never allowed”

Stephen Harper, 2002


* While living in the Canada, Harper pined for the CCCP, saying “Someone like me does not exist in the Soviet Union and that seems to me to be terrible.”

Stephen Harper, 1988

(The Toronto Sun, February 28, 1991.)


* Once in Russia, Harper called it his country on national television.

* And when speaking to a Soviet Military Academy Harper said he “loved” The Great Bear to such a degree that he was thinking of changing his name to Vlad.


“Now, this is coming from a Canadian who is not even a citizen of your country, but someone who has loved this country.”

Stephen Harper

(Lecture to the Russian Naval Academy. March 2001.)


Stephen Harper has not only been supportive of Russia he has also been very supportive of Soviet ideas and causes.

* He stood with us on Iraq.

* He defended torture, including coercive interrogation.

* He agrees with the governance model that emphasizes strength, coercion and intimidation.


“To defeat evil, we may have to traffic in evils: indefinite detention of suspects, coercive interrogations, targeted assassinations, even pre-emptive war. Even nasty attack ads!”

Stephen Harper

(The Walrus, May 2004.)


*He loves the tar sands.

“I think the best way to show our love and respect for our Russian comrades is to jointly exploit these valuable resources. And those ducks will just have to deal with it.”

Stephen Harper, Calgary Stampede, 2008


Join Soviet Russians for Harper today and show your support for Stevo. He’s the right choice for Canada, the right choice for Russia, the right choice for Soviets.



Cynical and small-minded in the great white north…

Yeah, I know. I shouldn’t be giving bandwidth to propagandists like this.

But it is the ill-informed and self-serving agents of the Politics of Cynicism that make me wish that there were an election just around the corner… when we can reduce the ReformCons to a rump in the boondocks of Alberta and rural Canada.

What pisses off RefoooormCons more than anything else is the ability of others to formulate a vision for the country that is not simply an anti-whatever-the-other-guy-is-saying. They are incapable of this and are envious. I guess I’m a little sorry for them.

I may not be Iggy’s biggest fan but I’m 100 % behind him as he tries to put together a forward motion that is NOT cynical and vindictive. This sets him apart from the Harperites.

Stay above the fray M.I.! Leave the gutter sniping to the gutter snipes!


Return of the buses

The phasing in – according to the Citizen:

No word on dates… but I’m guessing we’ll see the O-Train and the 80 & 90 series routes back as early as late next week. Here’s hopin’!

OC Transpo has a tentative plan for restoring transit service as quickly as possible, but a return to full service will take some time. Mechanics are working to bring all the buses back, but vehicles that haven’t had significant maintenance in more than 50 days can’t all be put on the roads immediately.

This is OC Transpo’s tentative plan for which routes will be back first.


Will operate during their regularly scheduled day, including rush hours:

• O-Train

• All school routes, numbered in the 600s

• Rapid transit routes 94, 95, 96, 97, 98, 101, 102 and 106

• Major routes 2, 7, 12, 14, 85, 86 and 118

• Peak employment route 105

• Van route 123

• Early morning routes 824, 825, 830, 835, 837, and 873

Will operate evenings and mid-day only, outside of rush hours:

• Routes 1, 3, 4, 5, 6, 8, 9, 16, 18, 87, 111, 112, 114, 115, 116 and 117

• Local black routes numbered 121 through 178

Will not operate immediately:

• Green express and rural express routes

• Red rush hour routes other than 102 and 105

Saturday & Sunday

All routes that normally run on weekends will operate at full service.


The strike is OVER

Both sides have agreed to binding arbitration with everything on the table!

This is GREAT news – however, I will blog a bit later about how pissed I am that it took this long!


A letter to Jack Layton

I encourage everyone to send a copy of this (or modified if you don’t really admire the guy or the NDP) to :

Hi Mr. Layton:

As much as I admire much of what you and what your party has done for all Canadians in challenging the current Government on a number of issues, I do hope that you will put partisanship aside and support the Government (yes, that leaves a bad taste in my mouth) in supporting back to work legislation to end the Ottawa transit strike.
This disruption has reached a point where intransigence is prevailing over cooperation and ego over conciliation.
I know it is generally not the policy of the NDP to support this type of  legislation, but it is my hope that you and your party will think about how the public transit users in this community have suffered over the past 50+ days.

Thank you and good luck this year!

John Marshall


Back to work legislation is possible

So, the strike is finally going to be addressed by the House.  Rona Ambrose has stated that she is ready to introduce back-to-work legislation.

The surprising turn of events came after a flurry of activity beginning at Queen’s Park yesterday when Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty called on the federal government to intervene and end the strike.

“I think it’s gone on for too long,” Mr. McGuinty told reporters.

“It affects our most vulnerable citizens. It’s dramatically affecting our economy at a time when we can’t afford to have these kind of things get in the way. So my advice to the federal government is you’re going to have to come to grips with this.”

Yes, but it is not only the most vulnerable citizens who have been hit by this. My family and I are by no means “vulnerable”, but our stress levels are at all-time highs due to the stoppage. Life can, at times, be stressful and we deal with that. But adding the strike to the usual cocktail of kids, work, et al has truly pushed both Colleen and I toward the brink. Our work hours are out of whack due to the necessity of taking carpools. When the carpools aren’t available (as is the case for the next week for Colleen since her driver has gone on a vacation), then there is the added stress of dropping the kids off AND picking them up as well as fighting the traffic and paying $15/day to park reasonably close to her building.

We are ALL vulnerable… it’s just that some are more so than others.


2009 Federal Budget

The neocons have done the impossible and have managed to largely exclude their normal partisanship and opportunism from this budget.

What does this tell me:

  • Harper is under extreme pressure form the caucus and the party executives to tone it down a little since the ramrod approach clearly isn’t working with the vast majority of Canadians.
  • They accept that their government is a minority and any budget items that would have pushed the limits of their situation would not be accepted by the House. In other words, they are trying to at least give the semblance of governing like a minority government.
  • They are a bit scared about the outcome of another general election should the Grits push them that far.

What should Iggy do?

  • Pump out his chest and say that dang-nab-it, we cannot support this thing in its current form but here are a few minor amendments that would make it more palatable… then, yeah, we’ll grudgingly support it.
  • Build up the profile of his party and himself over the next 16-18 months. This will buy some time to sell the Liberals as a real alternative to the neocons and will also buy some time to build up the Grit treasury.

This budget should pass. The coalition idea, although appealing on many fronts does not have broad base support and, while it would stand for the short term, would harm the Grits for many years to come in the long term.

Plus, the country really does not need another election right now.

Do the right thing Iggy. It really ain’t so bad. And this is one long-time Grit who will support you on it.

In other news… talks broke down between the City and the ATU… yet again.



Optimism all ’round

Just saw this comment on the story about the City changing its bargaining position (whatever that may mean).

Go Larry Go – The city is behind you all the way (although you may not know it) and we support you and the city in not letting the OC transpo workers and their union enslave us to their demands. Spring is coming, commuting will be a bit easier, and we can keep them (the union sheep) on KD as long as necessary.

Eh? Spring is coming? In Ottawa? Isn’t it the 25th of January?


I think the poster is either the most optimistic soul in the NCR, or he or she has spent way too many hours in the -30 weather sans chapeau.


Bulldog Bully Baird Butting Out of Strike

Finally someone has written a story about how John Baird, the Minister of TRANSPORT and the political minister for the City has been nowhere to be seen during the transit crisis that is causing so many folks so much pain.

Are we to believe that this schoolyard bully cannot work with the two sides to help bring resolution to this? What’s the point of being in government if you can’t effect change? I hope voters remember his inaction come election time.

He had no problem intervening in the affairs of the City when funding for one of the bygone transit proposals was on the table. But now that there is  REAL CRISIS, he shuts up?

In the past, Mr. Baird hasn’t hesitated to use his power to resolve issues of importance to Ottawa.

Along with his intervention on light rail in 2006, he played a role in blocking a new interprovincial bridge in the west end, pledged federal money to deal with sewage spills into the Ottawa River and helped secure a $1-a-year rent deal for the Queensway Carleton Hospital.

But there are reasons why he might hesitate to plunge as deeply into the transit strike. One is his history with Mayor Larry O’Brien, a fellow Conservative.

By delaying funding for the original light rail plan in 2006, Mr. Baird was broadly seen as giving a boost to Mr. O’Brien’s mayoral campaign.

And the same goes for Pepperhead Poilievre. Clearly the Neocon Ministers for this area intervene only when it is in political best interest.

And of course, the same goes for the entire City Council – with the possible exception of Clive Doucet. My own Councillor, Peter Hume, used to be quite communicative and helpful to his constituents – where have you gone Peter????