April 20, 2000
The battle lines are drawn - THE COMMENTARY
By Joseph Planta
VANCOUVER -- Those of us in the Vancouver public school district were given an extra week off last month as a union went on strike. I think it was the outside staff workers (whomever the hell they are) who put up pickets and decided to walk. Strikes are a funny thing.
A colleague, whoíll remain nameless (First name is Babak, rhymes with Khorram,) likes to label me a left-wing zealot, as I hold an NDP membership card.
To digress for a moment, sure Iím a member of the damned party, but that doesnít mean I donít disagree with everything they say. Sure, their record as a government is abysmal, super abysmal, if there is such a term. And thatís the fault of the entire system not one single party. (Note that itís a system that we did not create, but simply inherit.) Alas, thatís another column. There are a lot of things I happen to disagree with the party. For example, I think the Nisgaía treaty is a colossus mistake. (I say is, because I hope some court will over turn the treaty someday.) The tax and spend mindset doesnít agree with me, nor do nine consecutive un-balanced budgets. (Two, I might add which were fudged.)
The left, enamour themselves with a thinking process that has them embracing the mantra of being for the people. Better yet, the working people. Thatís why when a strike happens, like the last CUPE one, the battle lines are drawn pitting the right against the left, whether they admit it or not.
I happen to hold an NDP membership card. (But, am not a left-wing zealot, as itís clear I am not, if youíve read my column regularly.) Itís a party I think can work and should work, just not with the bunch currently in it. The left, is so damned hung up on pointing out the inaccuracies in the system, neglected to note their own. Also, as Rafe Mair says, havenít conjured up as much of a solution to their laments of wrong. Having been at the recent NDP convention, there are a hell of a lot divisions that not even Corky Evans or Ujjal Dosanjh can fix.
Strikes are a terrible inconvenience. I think itís particularly unfair for students to be put out of the classroom, but face it, if there were no strikes at all, workers rights would simply not exist. I am not in favour of making education an essential service, as conflicts will continue to arise and they wonít mean a hell of a lot more stability within the school system.
Word out of Hollywood, is that for the first time in something like 12 years, thereíll be a strike. Sure, itís hard to believe it, but it did happen before. And for show biz nuts like me, itíll be difficult to picture the Emmyís or the Fall TV season starting up, with a strike going on.
If we are to take stock of the last 3 and a half months, weíll note that almost weekly at least two different unions were hinting at strikes. Whether it was some folks in the public sector or some folks in some other unionised job, we seem to be beholden to strikes. Sure itís inconvenient, as well wrong to hold people hostage in that way. But, Iíd rather live in a society where workers rights are given some importance, rather than having a society where democracy is suspended for some god-awful reason.
Whether it be in BC schools or in Hollywood, strikes will continue happen. No matter the bills that can be rammed through the legislature during weekends in extreme haste, strikes will continue to bother us. The big, elitist right-winger will be fastened bully to the loud, pudgy, boisterous lefty. The battle lines are drawn. And when they meet, thatís worth watching, because if you think like I do, the right will probably rise again.
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