Air Canada Labour Dispute and Government News Releases

Does the Air Canada labour dispute really put Canada’s ‘fragile economy’ in jeopardy?

Listening to the radio this morning and seeing this Government of Canada news release, a reasonable Canadian citizen could think that the only thing keeping Canada’s economy healthy is uninterrupted air travel. The other side of the coin is that over 65 percent of the Air Canada flight attendant members of CUPE rejected the most recent contract offer on October 9.

Regardless of your opinion on the particulars of this current labour dispute, my question is this:

Does the threat of back to work legislation from a government minister directed to union members of a private company contribute to good faith bargaining?


  1. David Collier-Brown

    If it were applied broadly to all businesses in a broad sector of the economy, then it might be just a “cost of doing business”, one that is more beneficial to the management than the union members.

    Applied selectively to a single business, it might be less so (;-))

    I suspect that the fact that there are very few large companies in this sector contributes to the perceived seriousness of a strike, and motivates the minister to try to manage the problem by legislation.

    Philosophically*, this reminds me of the bills of pains and penalties of the 14th through 18th centuries, which have since fallen out of favor.

    The matters once dealt with via special legislation have since become matters for the courts. In the specific case of divorce, they have become matters for specialist courts.

    * I’m a philosopher, not a lawyer

  2. Good faith? No. Although I suppose that since the press release was not accompanied by “draft” legislation ready to be tabled, Minister Raitt (is she still a member of the LSUC?) might not run the risk of being investigated by the LSUC for professonal misconduct (reference: the lawyer who sent out draft statements of claim to debtors compelling them to pay up). As a society we recognize the existence of bully tactics and, as a society, we need to decide where such tactics cross the line and we, collectively, decide to put a stop to it. Hard to do in a majority Parliament – the only recourse (as Dave the Philospher noted and as Canada Post has done) will be to seek redress from the courts.

  3. Raitt is being taken to task from all sides legal and political over the last few days for this decision. Perhaps her handlers may want to do what Lord Campbell – Lord Chancellor of Great Britain (1859-61) did for others. Croake in “Curiosities of law and lawyers” (1896 – p. 86) wrote that Campbell, as he was then, “confessed” to the following:

    “Lord Campbell says as to his own work as a reporter “When I was a Nisi Prius reporter, I had a drawer marked “Bad Law”, into which I threw all the cases which seemed improperly ruled. I was flattered to hear Sir James Mansfield, C.J. say: “Whoever reads Campbell’s Reports must be astonished to find how uniformly Lord Ellenborough’s decisions were right.” My rejected cases, which I kept as a curiosity – not maliciously – were all burnt in the great in the Temple when I was Attorney General.” 4 Camp. Chanc., 458.”

  4. If workers can be legislated to NOT strike. The the company must be legislated against a LOCK OUT. I wonder if the latter is even considered.?