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What will Stephen Harper do with a majority government? That was the question on everyone’s lips just 50 days ago, after an election shocker gave the Tories their long-awaited majority with 166 seats.

Oh, I heard all the platitudes. It won’t be so bad, people said. Give them a chance. They’re not so scary. They won’t do anything that they didn’t do as a minority (not like that was very reassuring, either).

Yeah, right.

In politics, it’s customary to review the “first 100 days”. Unfortunately, Harper and his cronies have been so busy doing shit, that waiting until 100 days for this review seemed excessive.

(And yes, I know it’s not really the first 50 days of majority government. The 41st Parliament only convened on June 2nd, which is in fact less than 3 weeks ago. That’s a frighteningly short period of time in which Harper has already managed to do an awful lot of damage. But it has been 50 days since the election, so I think the post title is appropriate.)

Let’s look at what’s happened in the 50 days since the May 2nd election, shall we?

  • Workers’ rights have taken a serious beating, with back to work legislation being tabled against Canada Post, and threatened against Air Canada (who struck a deal to avoid it). In the case of Canada Post, arguably the legislation is against the crown corporation, which has locked out the workers. And those of you who know me understand that I have rather ambiguous feelings about labour unions that have too much power. But, especially in the case of Air Canada – a private company with competitive options for the consumer – the Tory government’s swift response against any labour rights whatsoever crosses the line even for me. There’s a happy medium in there, and this ain’t it.
  • Senate appointments for three Tory MP candidates who lost in their ridings called into question not only the appointment process itself, but Harper’s own promises to reform it. Canadians didn’t even blink. Beyond that, he’s threatening to abolish the Senate altogether if they don’t cave to his extortion cooperate with his reforms.
  • Asbestos exports are once again being defended by the Tories, who apparently feel that cancer is okay as long as it happens to people in other countries.
  • Job cuts in the public sector are coming pretty much right away. One of the first areas to be hit? Auditors. Cause, y’know, Harper doesn’t want anyone actually noticing how badly he’s been cooking the books – and how badly he plans to continue doing so.
  • And that doesn’t even take into account the fact that Harper is about to appoint two judges to the Supreme Court – something that will have ramifications for decades.

When you consider that there are still most of 5 years to go in his term, and that nothing prevents him from being re-elected, it’s downright terrifying.


Maybe not. If you’ve got an airline ticket with British Airways this Christmas season, you may be SOL, as BA employees are threatening to strike:

“We are absolutely determined to do whatever we can to protect our customers from this appalling, unjustified decision from Unite,” BA Chief Executive Willie Walsh said in a statement. “We do not want to see a million Christmases ruined.”

The planned strike, from Dec. 22 to Jan. 2, follows a dispute with cabin crew over job losses and changes in work practices. BA plans to cut 1,700 jobs, freeze pay for current staff and offer lower wages for new employees.

The airline is appealing to the courts for an injunction to stop the strike, on the grounds that there were “voting irregularities” in the balloting. But if you’re one of the millions of people with a BA airline ticket for Christmas break, you’ll probably want to watch this one carefully.

One of these days, labour and management will figure out how to have it out without getting millions of bystanders trapped in the crossfire.

Update 9/17: A court injunction has been awarded to British Airways to block the strike.

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The new Montreal transit chief – get this – actually uses public transit! What a concept! He’s even promised to ride the bus out to the west island to see for himself what a disaster the system is out there. Will it lead to improvements? Stay tuned. Meanwhile in Ottawa, citizens who’ve been held hostage […]

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OC Transpo prepares to strike


Looks like there will be a transit strike in Ottawa. Barring a last-minute deal, workers are set to walk off the job at midnight. In the middle of snowy, blizzardy weather. With no alternate means of transport for the thousands of people who will be left stranded. The union workers are being offered a 7% […]

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Thoughts on the WGA strike


So this whole thing is about what cut of the profits should be directed to the writers – both generally from sales, and specifically from online sales. Does that strike anyone else as odd? What ever happened to the idea that the entrepreneur takes the risk and therefore reaps the rewards? What other union has […]

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Transit strike over… for now


After four days of commuting hassles, headaches and havoc, the STM Maintenance Union has voted to end the strike and go back to work voluntarily, rather than face a possible government directive to do so that would likely come coupled with imposed settlement terms. But it ain’t over till it’s over. The union and the […]

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More strike fun


First it’s the local public transit that’s threatening to strike. And now, the longer-distance buses are getting in on the fun, too: Unionized drivers, mechanics and terminal staff at Greyhound Canada have given the bus line 72 hours’ strike notice after the workers rejected the company’s last contract offer, both sides said on Tuesday. Unlike […]

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Perfect timing


After nearly a decade of merrily driving myself around, polluting with impunity (okay, I drive a Civic, it’s not *that* bad), as of this month I’m once again on the BMW transit plan: Bus, Metro, Walk. Of course, that’s perfect timing for the transit workers to go on strike: Any time after Victoria Day, you […]

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NYC transit strike


The Montreal transit strike two years ago was horribly unpopular, but at least I have a car so it wasn’t so bad. I’ve been to London during an Underground strike, to Barcelona during a public bus strike, and to Venice during a public boat strike. All of those were, er, interesting experiences, to say the […]

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LCBO might strike


While the SAQ was on strike last fall and winter, Quebecers flocked en masse across the Ontario border to stock up on liquor at the LCBO. Ontarians were fond of mocking us for this, and we in turn were jealous of their excellent selections, lower prices and seemingly better-run outlets. Now, it looks like a […]

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