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BTC: Principles and prudence will you get you nowhere, sir


 

For those of you still keeping score, Stephane Dion’s new biggest mistake was refusing to bankrupt the Liberal party in the interests of defending his own reputation and attacking the character of his principal opponent.


 
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BTC: Principles and prudence will you get you nowhere, sir

  1. Seriously Aaron, we get it. Dion is the awesome, and he was merely the victim of his own awesomeness. Even you must be boring yourself by this point.

  2. Damn extra ‘the’, making me sound like an idiot.

  3. So close, Olaf; “teh awesome” would have been fine. Oh, and maybe a response would have given Dion a better image, helping the Liberals raise more money and thereby paying for themselves and more. We’ll never know.

  4. Hey Aaron : did you actually read the article? The Liberals opted to hang on to most of the cash because they feared that they might not be able to raise more if an election were called. = Here is the rub as they say. The LPC problem from day one has been their inability to fundraise from the regular working joe (the canadian plumber) and they are still suffering from it! This is the issue that Dion saw and did what about? Dion had a few years now and could have gone back through history especially Pearson and maybe did something about it he certainly had the information from all the reports with recomendations made for him which incidentally no one ever heard from again. At best he was ineffective at worst well I will leave that to the LPC members to decide after all I am a dyed in the wool conbot conservative nowadays. The bottom line is that his fear (which turned out to be an accurate one) over ruled his ability to re-organize his party and do something about the fear… in other words he proved the ad = Not A Leader (or a very good one anyways)and he is only compunding error upon error at this moment and if he keeps doing what he is doing the 12 seats we need is looking easier and easier to get the next election.

  5. Prudence and Principle, two nouns separated by a conjunction. New definition: permitting oneself to be portrayed by one’s opponents, without availing oneself of any available opportunity at rebuttal, as not being a leader, thereby confirming said portrayal.

  6. Could someone remind me how the Liberal party ended up so bankrupt back at the time of the last leadership fight? Did people stop donating because of Martin, or did Martin spend everything, or what? It can’t have been the leadership fight itself, since the candidates themselves were paying for their campaigns. So how did they get so broke?

    (Please, honest factual question, no rant answers about “God punished them.”)

  7. Jack: Maybe they (wisely) decided that unmarked envelopes slid across fashionable Montreal restaurant tables should lay low for a year or ten…

    I will leave it to other more informed observers for the factual answer you deserve, but I wonder how much “everything” PMPM actually had to spend. The new fundraising rules probably kept his cupboard pretty bare, too, no?

  8. My dear Conservative friends,

    If you are bothered by Mr Wherry’s queries about Prof. Dion, and need your Dion pile-on notaleader.ca fix, please feel free to read Ivison, D. Martin, Simpson, Macdonald, Gunter, Newman, Kay, Hebert, Duffy, Taber…

  9. “In 2005, the last year the Liberals were in power, they raised over $11-million. In 2006, Paul Martin’s final year — and their first out of office — the Grits raised just $5-million. In Mr. Dion’s first full year as leader that fell to $4-million. And this year, the Liberals’ non-election fundraising should be just over $3-million. This for a party that entered 2008 with at least $2-million in outstanding bank loans.

    So bad are Liberal revenues that before the election the party was relying on taxpayer funding for nearly 75% of its income.” National Post, Oct 22

    Jack M

    The quote is from today’s Gunter article. It seems that once Libs no longer had access to public money they could spread around to their followers, supporters stopped ‘donating’ money back to the party. I am sure that’s just a coincidence though.

  10. I’d still be interested to know who financed Stephen Harper’s Alliance leadership race.

  11. Jack,

    The financial problems of the Liberal Party can be traced to one simple fact. The Liberals have a small number of donors. The Liberals have always had a small number of donors, it’s just that it was never a problem until the Chretien government introduced caps on donations. This was largely because the few donors they have are able to cut comparatively large cheques to what is now allowed by law.

    The problem was further exacerbated by the Harper government lowering the cap even further. If you really want to confirm that the party is in dire straights financially, I recommend looking at the number of donors the party has received donations from year over year and compare it to either the Conservatives or NDP (I honestly don’t know what you’ll find, but it wouldn’t shock me if the Liberal numbers are relatively consistent and the others are edging upwards).

    The problem with the finances are simply the party’s inability to grow their fundraising pool beyond the typical pool of Toronto and Montreal donors.

    The reason this didn’t impact the other parties quite so much, particularly the Conservatives, is that the parties grew at a grassroots level that depended on small donations from lots of people. In short the Chretien/Harper rules played right into the Conservative strength and the Liberal weakness.

    Or, I suppose you could suggest that is has something to do with not having access to the public purse any longer…but I find that a shade too cynical.

  12. Seriously Aaron, we get it. Dion is the awesome, and he was merely the victim of his own awesomeness. Even you must be boring yourself by this point.

    How arrogant.

  13. Isn’t it time to move on? Isn’t this neverending conversation about Dion getting tired and warn?

    Enough already.

  14. Honest to God Aaron…what would Dion have to have done for you NOT to consider him a decent and thoughtful politician?

    * He made more nasty personal attacks towards another leader than anyone else in the campaign (liar, quitter, BushHarper, etc.)

    * He blamed his CTV interview on a bogus hearing problem then claimed that people criticizing him were attacking people disabilities

    *

  15. Sorry, hit submit too early…

    Honest to God Aaron…what would Dion have to have done for you NOT to consider him a decent and thoughtful politician?

    * He made more nasty personal attacks towards another leader than anyone else in the campaign, including Harper (liar, quitter, BushHarper, etc.)

    * He blamed his CTV interview on a bogus hearing problem then claimed that people criticizing him were attacking people with disabilities

    * He had the RCMP “rough up” a CTV reporter afterwards (CTV’s words, not mine)

    * And then blamed his crappy election performance on the Conserative ad campaign and the public’s unwillingness to accept his beloved Green Shift

    Is there anything that Dion could have done that would have caused him to lose esteem in your eyes?

  16. Jack,

    I may be mistaken, but I believe that the Paul Martin Leadership campaign raised north of 10 million, as it was under the old no limit corporate rules, and ended up as the largest donor to the LPC in 2006 as it was allowed to donate it’s surplus to the party, which was north of 2 million. If memory serves, than the answer is certainly not that Martin had anything to do with the dire straights the party finds itself in today. The party is broke now because ordinary Canadians have never had to financially support the party and so are not used tot it, and don’t do it. In my area, the local election campaign for the Grits was well financed, because they have a large list of supporters at election time, but these folks have never sent money to Ottawa, and aren’t likely to start, or if they do, will scale back local support………that would be the horn of a dillema.

  17. Blues Chair:

    If you are bothered by Mr Wherry’s queries about Prof. Dion, and need your Dion pile-on notaleader.ca fix, please feel free to read Ivison, D. Martin, Simpson, Macdonald, Gunter, Newman, Kay, Hebert, Duffy, Taber…

    Never heard of them, could you provide links?

    Seriously though, at least some of the above columnists talk about other things once in a while. I mean, due respect to Wherry, he can obviously write about whatever he wants and he normally does so well, I’m just providing my opinion that it seems like he’s going overboard on this “fundamentally reinventing Dion’s character” kick.

    Or maybe I’m just a Conbot and I don’t know it. I think they deliberately implant a chip that makes you think you’re not a Conbot when you actually are. Kind of like how you never know you’re in a dream when you’re dreaming.

  18. I’m just providing my opinion that it seems like he’s going overboard on this “fundamentally reinventing Dion’s character” kick.

    If it’s only *your* opinion, why the use of *we* in “we get it?” You seem to imply you’re speaking for others.

  19. Prudence and the Peter Principle:

    “In a Hierarchy Every Employee Tends to Rise to His Level of Incompetence.”

  20. MJW

    Some data from Elections Canada (for all I know, the pundit’s guide has already crunched all this….) Note the extraordinary fundraising prowress of the CPC (inherited from the Reform Party, it seems). Hopefully the tables show up properly; otherwise note the field limiters (/) and the end-of-line marks (~).

    Fundraising – amounts raised and number of donors, from http://www.elections.ca (election finanacing database)

    [Party]
    Year/ $ Raised/ # of donors~
    [Bloc]
    2004/ 859 746/ 8 775~
    2005/ 734 729/ 7 773~
    2006/ 529 513/ 6 027~
    2007/ 429 971/ 4 486~

    [Conservative]
    2004/ 10 910 320 / 68 382~
    2005/ 17 847 451/ 106 818~
    2006/ 18 641 306/ 108 890~
    2007/ 16 983 630/ 107 492~

    [Green]
    2004/ 351 031/ 3 606~
    2005/ 409 357/ 4 529~
    2006/ 832 631/ 9 642~
    2007/ 972 022/ 10 081~

    [Liberal]
    2004/ 4 719 388/ 17 429~
    2005/ 8 344 162/ 23 878~
    2006/ 9 063 126/ 24 967~
    2007/ 4 471 903/ 23 442~

    [NDP]
    2004/ 5 194 170/ 30 097~
    2005/ 5 120 827/ 27 824~
    2006/ 3 972 763/ 25 135~
    2007/ 3 959 451/ 23 303~

    Average donation per donor:
    [Party]
    Year: $/donor~
    [Bloc]
    2004: $97.86~
    2005: $94.52~
    2006: $87.86~
    2007: $95.85~

    [Conservative]
    2004: $159.55~
    2005: $167.08~
    2006: $171.19~
    2007: $158.00~

    [Green]
    2004: $97.35~
    2005: $90.39~
    2006: $86.35~
    2007: $96.42~

    [Liberal]
    2004: $270.78~
    2005: $349.45~
    2006: $363.00~
    2007: $190.76~

    [NDP]
    2004: $172.58~
    2005: $184.04~
    2006: $158.06~
    2007: $169.91~

    You can go farther back in the EC database but it’s less user-friendly (I just did the easy work). For example, in 2002:
    The Liberals rec’d $13.2M from 17 891 donors (avg $741 each),
    The Cdn Allian rec’d $7.3M from 95 531 donors ($76 or one-tenth the Lib don.)
    The PCs rec’d $3.4M from 11 555 donors ($290 ea)
    The NDP rec’d 5.3M from 35 614 ($148 ea)
    The Greens rec’d 137 K from 841 donors ($163 each)

  21. Further to my long data-heavy post, 168 804 people donated to one of those 5 parties in 2007 (and we know it is people, not orgs, in 2007, although there is some double counting of those who gave to more than one), and this represents approximately 1% of those who voted last week (and about .66% of the number of people on the list)

  22. Conservative smearing aside, I don’t think Dion ever really lived up to expectations. I personally wasn’t overwhelmed by a gusher of deep thinking from him. I was guaranteed by pundits that Harper vs. Dion would be a debate like no other, a debate of agile thinkers, deep thinkers, visionaries. Instead they both tried to channel Chretien – with Harpo doing a better job.

  23. Frankly I don’t buy that conservative fundraising is on the level. Sooner or later we’re going to find out how they’re gaming the system. Personally I think it has to do with the fact that donations of 20 bucks or less aren’t documented. This can allow a determined person to donated tens of thousands of dollars in a year.

  24. Two Hats,

    That raises an interesting question. Ti-Guy, is your g-note in the Liberal figures, i.e. are you part of the problem, or the solution?

  25. Frankly I don’t buy that conservative fundraising is on the level. Sooner or later we’re going to find out how they’re gaming the system. Personally I think it has to do with the fact that donations of 20 bucks or less aren’t documented. This can allow a determined person to donated tens of thousands of dollars in a year.

    MacLelland, you wouldn’t. Of course, you’re also a dipper, so you can’t do math. The donors listed are all receipted, and then submit those receipts to the CRA, said receipts having serial numbers and subject to audit.

    The dippers used to have alot more donors indirectly via union donations of members dues without their consent, too bad things changed.

  26. @ Robert McClelland: I’m not sure what you’re suggesting — that they raised more than what’s registered with EC (ie >$17M) or that the money listed came from fewer donors than noted… ie the CPC is fabricating donors.
    If it’s the latter, then while I wouldn’t be completely shocked if the present crew was doing this, I can’t beleive the old Reformers capable of such a scheme (technically yes, in the later years, but not ethically), and there’s a pretty straight line between the Ref. support numbers and the current CPC ones.

    If you’re suggesting the first option, I’ll point out that $17M/yr is a heck of a lot of money — why break the rules to collect more?

    I don’t think there’s any “gaming” of the system going on — they just figured out how to tap a very small part (less than 2%) of their voter base for a day’s pay a year (or less). I don’t have numbers for it, but I believe in the US the Dems have managed the same thing.

  27. Two Cents: I don’t mean either one of those two scenarios. What I’m talking about is the fact that donations of $20 or less have no paper trail. This means a person could donate 20 bucks a day for a year (a total of $7,300) and nobody would know they did. Take this idea to the extreme and somebody could theoretically donate 20 bucks a day for a year to every riding association (a total of roughly $2.2 million).

  28. union donations of members dues without their consent

    All unions hold monthly membership meetings and at these meetings votes are held on how the dues will be spent. Even simple things like paying the electricity bills for the union hall require a vote from the membership.

  29. You didn’t take it to any extreme, Robert M. If you want to start thinking properly in your bizarro-world, let’s have all thirty million of us sneaking twenty bucks into each riding association of our preferred party on a daily basis. Kids too (hey, it was good enough for Volpe…) Then you get to a whopping 67-plus trillion dollars a year. See? You want to expose trouble in an insane fashion, at least do it right, my friend. Oh the corruption!

  30. I think that Robert is claiming, that in addition to the 17 million being donated by 100 000 donors, which is far more than their rivals, the Conversatives are receiving even more from undocumented donors in $20 increments. Or that these 100 000 people don’t exist (even though their names are on tax returns). Or some crazy and evil Conservative scheme yet to be clarified.

    We all know that if the Liberals were the ones that got caught funneling money into their party illegally, this can only mean that the Conservatives are doing the same, but better, and not getting caught.

    Unquestionably, there must be some truth to this hunch based on no evidence whatsoever.

  31. SF, you failed to consider the possibility that Tory supporters, all 100,000 or so of ’em, might be so pissed at the limits placed on their contributions by dab gummint rules, that they would be so inspired to go to the trouble of (a) criss-crossing the country on a daily basis with $20 bills in order to deposit a XX-note into the petty cash shoe-box at each riding office (yes Virginia, there is a rich partisan with lots of free time and a really honkin’ sports car…), (b) happily avoiding the insanely generous tax credit the CRA would have rewarded if the 308 daily micro-contributions were fully receipted, and (c) keeping it all a big secret.

    Could happen, eh Bob?

    PS: Why, no, Mr. M, I didn’t actually know the Tories used shoe boxes at each riding office for petty cash, it was a lucky guess, really, you gotta believe me… ah, hell, the jig is up. Sorry, fellow evil redneck neocon thugs, I have failed you, and I will willingly submit to sacrifice at the next, um, assembly.

  32. I’m not making any claims. But when you consider the number of times the Conservatives have exploited loopholes in the system (ten percenters from MPs to ridings they don’t represent, the in and out scandal, the thin reasoning for why the election wasn’t illegal) I don’t see why anyone should accept that their fundraising–that doubles the amount the other four parties combined are raising–is on the level.

  33. No doubt all the big oil and nuclear related companies would be willing to chip in for ‘$20’ pizza nights any night of the week.
    That loop hole exists for all parties and if the Cons have hit a home run on that, i guess it’s legit.
    As far as ethics go, this gang is proving more and more that it will do anything within their power to reach its goals. Ethics won’t stand in their way.

  34. Hey, Bob, I sheepishly admit I jaywalk when there’s no traffic. I can now see why no one “should accept” that I am innocent of homicide in all those cold cases.

    Thanks for the moment of logical clarity. Looks like you’ve already convinced Dan…

  35. No post on Chinese Democracy? Not even Feschuk? You disappoint me Maclean’s.

  36. Does anyone else feel queasy seeing Robert make the same accusations McCain recently made against Obama’s grassroots fundraising? Next we’ll be hearing about how many times Mickey Mouse voted Conservative…

  37. “Isn’t it time to move on? Isn’t this neverending (sic) conversation about Dion getting tired and warn?

    Enough already.”

    I agree with your sentiment Sandi, unfortunately the unfortunate Mr. Dion has decided to stay on as interim leader. Our only relief will come if they move up the Liberal leadership convention.

  38. Even simple things like paying the electricity bills for the union hall require a vote from the membership.

    Unions cost real people real jobs, and are relics of the 50s and 60s. People whine and moan about the loss of manufacturing jobs in Ontario..well, lost your manufacturing job? Blame your union for fighting for you to make $75,000 a year to pull a lever, when someone in Mexico is willing to do it for $2000.

    How can anyone be surprised when the jobs leave? And the unions have the gall to blame McGuinty and Harper? Seriously…smarten up, take a pay cut, and ditch your union.

  39. Bourque was reporting Tuesday that Iggy wants Dion voted out of the caucus ! And LeDrew has been on CTV a few times, talking about how many MPs are “livid with Mr. Dion. They’re gonna unload”

    So how will this play out at the caucus meeting Thursday ? There is an opportunity for Ignatieff to show some ruthlessness and decisivness, and form a break-away group of MPs. Let them all sit in the House as Independent Liberals. If there are more than 50 of them, then Ignatieff can lay claim to being leader of the largest Party, and thus the Official Opposition.

    This seems drastic, but the alternative of keeping Dion as the lamest of lame duck leaders until possibly May is total insanity. The guy is a Frankenstein. A loose cannon, about to be played like a fiddle by Harper and Layton.

    How easy will it be to get Iggy/Rae to contradict something Dion says. More material for the next set of notaleader ads against the eventual winner. The Big Red Machine is being driven by someone who isn’t competent to be pulling a toy red wagon of two children.

  40. KCD- Unions ensure decent healthy working conditions, fair pay and fair treatment for their members. These things are not “relics of the 50’s and 60’s.” People in Mexico are doing some of the same jobs for (according to you) roughly 1/35th the money it gets done for here. Hmmmm…are you planning to move to mexico to partake in the great quality of life the workers have there? Thought not, perhaps the issue is that manufacturers are trying to screw workers to gain profit and if they can’t screw the Canadian worker they’ll look elsewehere to screw others (ex. Mexicans). Should we really ditch our unions and then hope that the manufacturers will give us the privelage of paying us less and treating us like crap just like they were planning to do to the Mexicans? Seems the problem isn’t so much the unions as the employers. How about this, instead of telling people to ditch unions why don’t we foster the growth of Unions elsewhere so that there will be fairness and decent wages in places like Mexico and elsewhere?
    Also, I’m always amused when people complain about the guy getting “$75,000 a year to pull a lever” (an oversimplification to be sure), while they have no problem with a CEO who gets tens of millions of dollars to schmooze with the corporate elite (admittedly also an oversimplification…in some cases). When the rich get overpayed you say they deserve it because it is every man (or woman) for themself and if they showed the wherewithall to get more money, good on ’em- take whatever you can get (“Greed is Good” if you liked Wallstreet). That is the way capitalism works! When workers manage to squeeze out more money it’s all about how little they do or how undeserving they are.
    Ultimately the job losses in Ontario involve many factors that have nothing to do with Unions. The implication that losing jobs during an econoic downturn is the result of greedy working stiffs is simply absurd, blind union bashing.

  41. Yes, enough already. There is no place for principles in politics. This is not new…

    Many Canadians prefer bullies to builders. Machoism to intelligence. Immaturity to progress. A minority of Canadians, but with our ‘democratic’ process the minority rules.

    Time for a more democratic system. Unfortunately, the appetite on the right in Canada isn’t too strong for democracy I think.

    And once we get a Liberal majority in power, our system will still not be democratic.

    The joys of being the sheep.

  42. Ryan, those Mexicans are happy to have those jobs, and likely would be worse off without them. Your anti-off-shoring rhetoric talking about the good of the poor misguided workers in developing countries is really just disguise self-interest of union types who think corporations owe them an above-market wage job, regardless of whether the firm makes money.

    You can whine about executive compensation, but it’s not your money. Union types work for the management, and the management work for the shareholders. It is up to the shareholders (and their representation in the board of directors) to decide what is a fair rate of pay for executives.

  43. Andrew says: “It is up to the shareholders (and their representation in the board of directors) to decide what is a fair rate of pay for executives.”

    Of course, that is a pleasant fiction. Individual shareholders in a large corp are about as empowered as individual workers, and just like workers, would need to unite in order to fight to have their interests put above management’s. In the current situation, the management structure perpetuates itself, even if individual managers are given the boot. (eg, high exec pay is the norm. Sometime execs get fired, but they are replaced with other overpaid execs.)

    Many have commented, and I agree, that the current exec pay structure does not encourage long-term corp. growth (and so is not aligned with the long-term interests of the shareholder.)

    To the earlier comment, I would say that the only thing worse than working in a unionized workplace is working in a place that needs a union and doesn’t have one. Non-unionized workers owe a lot to the battles won by unions in the past, and the standards they fight for in the present. We are to some extent free riders, and should acknowledge that. (Instead we tend to bitch about the better deal unionized workers get.)

  44. “I would say that the only thing worse than working in a unionized workplace is working in a place that needs a union and doesn’t have one.”

    Well put. I’ve worked in non-union environments where concerns about worker safety were openly scoffed at by management, and where people were needlessly hurt while trying to make a living.

    I’d prefer a society where worker safety, respect and decent wages were mandated by our goverments (I’m talking about essential minimum standards here – so hold off on the anti-communist backlash.). But in the absence of such protections, I’m willing to accept some excesses on the part of formalized unions.

    You don’t need to dig too deeply into the history of non-union working conditions to see the alternative.

  45. I think Andrew is just longing for the days when everyone worked 80 hours a week with no benefits and usually 6 days a week to survive.

    The days when life was all about exploitation. Aquiring power to ensure you can deprive others and keep the spoils for yourself.

    Do you think the plebs too rich in the West, Andrew? With the rate at which the gap between rich and poor is growing, the middle class will continue to shrink and unless they unite you will get the good ole days back.

    Just have to keep the middle class divided. It’s wonderous how easy it has become.

  46. The implication that losing jobs during an econoic downturn is the result of greedy working stiffs is simply absurd, blind union bashing.

    Not greedy working stiffs, greedy unions who negotiate their members out of jobs. All union leaders want is higher salaries for their workers, so they can get higher union fees..and damn the consequences. Very short-sighted.

    I’m all for the role of the union in ensuring a safe work-place, and a greater role in that area should also be played by the various levels of government.

    All I’m saying is, in the global economy, every concession your union wrings out of your employer, is one step closer to you losing your job.

  47. KCD – pricing their workers out of jobs would cost the union more in union dues than they could get by modest wage increases. The argument is supposed to be that unions slow job creation, the same way payroll taxes do, and undermine productivity growth by protecting surplus jobs. The main point is supposed to be that unions allow their members to increase their wages and benefits faster than productivity is increasing. That was happening before Thatcher in the UK, but doesn’t seem to be happening in the US based on the past twenty or thirty years of income distribution/wage growth numbers, but I’d be interested in seeing any numbers from Canada that support that argument.

  48. “All I’m saying is, in the global economy, every concession your union wrings out of your employer, is one step closer to you losing your job.”

    That’s exactly the sort of fear mongering that has been used to beat down workers for generations. In fact, there have been many cases where unions – when shown credible evidence – have accepted cuts in pay, reductions in benefits, and the like, to ensure the survival of their employers.

    Without denying that there are cases where the labour force has simply become too expensive for particular corporations to remain viable, there are abundant examples of job losses being directly attributable to poor decision-making on the part of management (North American automakers deciding to pin their futures on making SUVs comes to mind). Furthermore, broad shifts in the economy, global markets, and consumer demand can equally contribute to job losses.

    To suggest that workers ought to cease advocating for themselves lest they lose their jobs is overly simplistic at best, and a case of false propoganda at worst.

  49. “(North American automakers deciding to pin their futures on making SUVs comes to mind).”

    Sean S

    Car makers pinned their hopes on pickups and SUVs because they make huge profits per vehicle on them and automakers had to roll the dice in order to pay their retirees benefits. The last figure I saw was that for the Detroit 3, around $1,700 per vehicle went directly to pay pensions and health insurance.

    And since automakers only make around $500 per small vehicle, they had to focus on light trucks and larger cars or else they would be losing even more money than they already are.

  50. To suggest that workers ought to cease advocating for themselves lest they lose their jobs is overly simplistic at best, and a case of false propoganda at worst.

    Your comments exemplify the mind-set of the union bosses that never see the shut-down coming until its too late. Not our fault you lost your jobs because we asked for too much, it’s the employers fault! We were just advocating!

    What some call truth, unions call fear mongering. Solidarity brother!

  51. KDC,

    Go back and read my last comment. You’ll see that I do in fact accept that in some cases, the cost of labour has made some ventures impractical and led to job losses. Don’t twist my words for your own narrow purposes. Between the two of us, you’re the one coming off as a knee-jerk ideologue.

  52. sorry, that should have read KCD…

  53. Between the two of us, you’re the one coming off as a knee-jerk ideologue.

    I guess your support for this declaration is the same on which you base your support for unions? Because it’s what you think, therefore it must be true.

    Read your own comment. All you did above was agree with me that unions cost jobs, but then you say we need unions to keep advocating until all the union jobs have left Canada. To protect the workers!

  54. Companies don’t relocate offshore for small reductions in labour cost, they do it for enourmous reductions in costs. costs first world workers can’t compete with. Sometimes unions do indeed agree to lower compensation to aid their employers through tough times. but if somebody is saying “accept less or we move to a tropical island somewhere”, they’re either bluffing or the decision has already been made to do so.

  55. Big unions can be considered just as evil as big corporations. They are primarily concerned with increasing their size by organizing ever increasing numbers of members. Those at the top get rich off the effort of those who are actually performing productive work. There is rampant corruption (perhaps not illegal, but definitely self-serving pork barreling with rich expense accounts, etc.) among union executives.

    Pity the worker who is forced to be under the yoke of union tyranny simply to make a living in a union shop.

    A union in a workplace that doesn’t need one is a huge drag on profits for the employer and earnings for the employees. The only ones getting rich off that deal is the fat union bosses.

  56. KCD- “All you did above was agree with me that unions cost jobs, but then you say we need unions to keep advocating until all the union jobs have left Canada.”

    Actually Sean S. accepted (correctly) that there have been cases where Union leadership has misjudged the situation with ill effects, much the same as corporations have done the same. Since the argument is ultimately systemic, accepting that there are individual exceptions isn’t the same as saying in a blanket way “unions cost jobs.”

    Also, can we move away from the absurd myth of the “union bosses” and their evil schemes. Unions are democratic. Those bosses are elected and can be removed based on frequently engaged election processes. Although there are some notable figures who have remained around over long periods and who have particular prominance they, and all other Union Presdients are in their positions because the membership elected them. They do what they do, for good or for ill, with the intent of help the members as much as possible. Can the same be said of corporate CEOs? The share holder talk is nice but of course most of the share holders with any pull are wealthy folks with lots of stock…such as the CEOs themselves.

  57. One has to wonder who the LPC caucus will turn to when Dion is no longer around to kick around. Jane Taber might find herself obligated to return to actual news reporting as oppose to just gossip.

  58. Unions are not more democratic than corporations. One unit, one vote.

    I would generally be much more favourably disposed to unions if they didn’t make it so difficult to fire people when there is just cause. When it is hard to fire, companies are loath to hire. That has a real impact.

    Beyond that, I feel that improved labour laws can more effectively and efficiently provide worker protection than unions. Indeed, many of the rights people mistakenly assume have been granted to them through their union’s bargaining agreement are often mandated by labour law.

  59. “Jane Taber might find herself obligated to return to actual news reporting as oppose to just gossip.”

    Return? I think you may have meant “turn”.

  60. Andrew says: “Indeed, many of the rights people mistakenly assume have been granted to them through their union’s bargaining agreement are often mandated by labour law.”

    This is very short-sighted. Mainly, the mandated labour laws have arisen because of previous workplace action. That is, the law simply codifies an existing best- or common practice, which exists only because workers have had the clout the improve their conditions (often through union action).

    Again, I’ll reiterate that as employees we owe a lot of our current conditions to past union activity. It is doubtful that in the absence of unions that either our customary or statutory standards of employment would be as high as they are. This is not to say that unions have only good effects, but that on balance, in practice, they have been good for employees.

    And for employers, too. Because while “A union in a workplace that doesn’t need one is a huge drag on profits for the employer and earnings for the employees” (Andrew again), it is also true that a union missing from a workplace that needs one is ALSO a huge drag on profits and earnings, since a poor working environment has enormous hidden costs.

    A market where the employer is common (and so acts “collectively” because it is one) and the workers don’t act collectively does not in fact dictate a good work environment, even though a good work environment is in EVERYONE’s best medium- and long-term interest. Union action adresses this problem. Regulation does also, but normally government only follows a trail blazed and beaten by employees.

  61. I won’t argue that unions have been beneficial in the past, and that there exist workplaces where employees could benefit from unionization (here’s looking at you, Wal-Mart, McDonalds, etc.). However, it does not follow that unions are therefore beneficial or necessary in say, the auto industry.

    Don’t even get me started on public sector unions.

  62. Andrew- “Unions are not more democratic than corporations. One unit, one vote.”

    I’m not actually sure what you are referring to here. I’m sure different unions may have different practices but in my experience most major decisions are not decided on by a 1 unit 1 vote system. I can personally say that my local representation and by-laws are decided on a 1 member, 1 vote basis and my Federation representation and by-laws are decided by a delegate system that allots votes based on the number of members from any given local. My contract is decided on a one member, one vote basis. I have very little experience of how corporations opperate but my understanding is that there is no democracy involved in almost any decision outside of the real hum dingers that require the say of the shareholders. If i am not mistaken you get votes in proportion to your shares. I hate to break it to you Andrew but giving those with the most money more say, those with less money less say and those with NO money, NO say is NOT democratic. To suggest that corporations are democratic or that they are even comprable to unions in this sense is totally insane.

  63. I certainly agree that unions had their place in improving working conditions in Canada and the US.

    While unions did play a role in bringing working conditions up to an acceptable standard, government legislation subsequently locked those standards in place. At some point you can’t make the shop floor any safer, but you still have to justify your existance..so all the union’s time and effort was entirely focused on extracting extra benefits and salary from the company.

    And they’ve been very good at it. So good the jobs are now leaving the country..too much of a good thing?

  64. KCD- Maintaining good working conditions and advocating for the membership is an ongoing battle. Unfortunately, employers will often try to dodge the standards, or reinterpret the meaning of the standards thus hurting working conditions (you wouldn’t believe some of the crap I’ve seen!). In some cases supervisors and employers will bully and harass employees. Even if the shop floor “can’t get any safer” (which is questionable) Unions are still required to keep employers honest and to ensure that workers know their rights and can access them WITHOUT reprisal. If all unions disapeared tomorrow does anyone really think big business wouldn’t have reversed many of the protections workers have within a week?! Unions advocate and keep employers honest.

  65. It’s not really totally insane. Corporations are one share one vote because that means influence is proportional to the stake one has in the decision. Same goes for unions, where the stake tends to be more uniform.

    You seem to be trying to argue that democracy is good, and shareholder representation is well… less good, simply because shareholders with more shares get more votes.

    If no money, no say is undemocratic, does the fact that I am unable to vote in your union as I am not a member (analogous to no shares) mean your union is undemocratic?

    At any rate, this tangent is pretty well irrelevant to the issue of the tyranny of the union. Why are individuals not allowed to bargain on their own behalf?

  66. Unions advocate and keep employers honest.

    Sure. But why do they need to ask for raises higher than the rate of inflation/cost of living, and increased retirement benefits in every negotiating session?

    They need to do so because the $100+ per paycheque union dues needs to be justified..if unions focused on maintaining workplace condition gains, and negotiated raises at cost of living increases..then that fee should go down. But the union heads don’t want it to go down, so they try to wring extra benefits from the employer to show thier value..ultimately dooming the company.

    Eventually the employer says, “we can do the same business in mexico, there is no pleasing you union guys, see ya later.”

  67. I would advise a full reading of labour history.
    If you can find anything – outside of the NCC and Fraser Institute archives – these days.

    Then a full reading of the history of the corporation.

    Which entity rests on the more flimsy logical and legal base ?

    A fun read, especially for fans of Deadwood, would be Big Trouble by J. Anthony Lukas.

  68. Sisyphus: Then union-types should be lining up to establish cooperatives.

  69. Andrew- I’m sorry but your comparisons above are completely off. You don’t get to vote in my union because you have no stake in my union or my profession. I’m not asking for a vote in every, or any, corporation. I’m not even asking they be democratic. I’m just saying that they aren’t. In response to my assertion that so caled “Union Bosses” weren’t mysterious villains who have been given some sort of unacceptable authority you said unions are no more democratic than corporations. That is simply wrong. Authority based on wealth is not democratic (in the modern Western sense of the word. The Greeks had no problem with it) it is oligarchical. Frankly, whether you like unions, corporations, both or neither attempting to argue that corporations are democratic is just silly.

    “tyranny of the union. Why are individuals not allowed to bargain on their own behalf?”

    1) The union, as I have explained is not tyrannical, it is democratic.
    2) individuals are welcome to bargain on their own behalf. They may choose to enter a non-unionized workplace and take their chances. They can’t bargain individually in a unionized environment for the same reason you can’t negotiate your own personal taxation public services plan with the government. Even if you didn’t want to pay for better roads and opted out, you’d still get to use them. We are all in this together and it is unfair that some people should gain the benefits of the union (ex. pushing up wages, ensuring a safe workplace etc…) while not contributing to the collective. This isn’t simply some mandate from the unions, it is legislation AND legal precedent.

  70. KCD- “why do they need to ask for raises higher than the rate of inflation/cost of living, and increased retirement benefits in every negotiating session?”

    I thought you already knew this! We live in a capitalist society. In our system people try to increase their wealth the best they can so that they can live comfortably by consuming more. It is the same reason the corporate big wigs get massive raises and insane golden parachutes to augment saleries that are already so massive I can’t begin to imagine how they spend the money. Why no question as to why they ask for more? Why do companies continually seek growth? It’s the way the system works. Besides, these unionized employees are spending the money they gain like good consumers should. They are being good capitalist citizens and the unions are trying to help them towards that end. Why is self interested greed OK for the rich execs but not for the workers?
    Who are we kidding? Companies don’t move because they can’t AFFORD to stay here with union wages, they move because they can PROFIT more elsewhere by exploiting those who are weaker because of social, economic and historical circumstance. This is an important distinction because HAVING to move lets them off the hook and implies they have no responsability for these events. Thus, folks like yourself can blame the workers for the problem rather than the corporate greed (sorry I know it is a cliche) which is the true motivator.

  71. “We are all in this together and it is unfair that some people should gain the benefits of the union (ex. pushing up wages, ensuring a safe workplace etc…) while not contributing to the collective.”

    Well said. It’s just ok for about (a bit less than?) (a bit more than?) half the population to gain benefits of society without contributing to the collective in taxes. Nice, eh?

    Just drop out of school, don’t work (well, not in a job that requires pesky things like tax deductions and EI payments, anyways), and here’s your welfare cheque, your medicare card, your subsidized housing application, your list of area food banks…

  72. Andrew – I’m not sure where your “cooperatives” came from…… but …. since you asked …

    I live in the “birthplace” of the Antigonish Movement. (Google it.)

    I live in a housing Coop.

    I get groceries at a Coop store.

    I bank at a Credit Union.

    I’m insured through a Coop.

    All of which is unconnected to any topic in this
    , as usual, scattershot thread. Other than than the fact that they are all unionized entities. And I’m happy with that.

  73. MYL-“Well said. It’s just ok for about (a bit less than?) (a bit more than?) half the population to gain benefits of society without contributing to the collective in taxes. Nice, eh?

    Just drop out of school, don’t work (well, not in a job that requires pesky things like tax deductions and EI payments, anyways), and here’s your welfare cheque, your medicare card, your subsidized housing application, your list of area food banks…”

    MYL- That is the type of stereotypical oversimplification that makes any meaningful discussion of social assistance so difficult. I can’t deny some people milk the system. That being said, most welfare recipients don’t fit the loser stereotype you are perpetuating. There is a limited amount of wealth out there, that is a simple fact. If wealth were limitless it would cease to have meaning. When some people hvae LOTs of it and others have moderate amounts basic math tells you there will always be those who, no matter what they do, will have less or not enough. Blaming the poor for their poverty is inaccurate and unfair.

  74. Sorry, Ryan D, a three-paragraph comment on the alleged evils of some people skimming off the top at the expense of others (the labour union argument forcing all to sign up) was never intended to be a meaningful discussion of social assistance. It was a quick attempt at showing that the practice of some people helping themselves to benefits without contributing anything happens, and there was a ready example at hand that most people would be able to wrap their heads around.

    BTW, the wealth that is out there is not as “limited” as you think with your “simple fact.” The more productive we all are, the more wealth (the collective) we have. The less productive some of us are (and the more of us who are or choose to be less productive), the less wealth (the collective) we have.

    I am not blaming the poor for their poverty. I am lamenting that subsidized inactivity becomes a rational choice for so many who are perfectly able to be more productive. Give up my welfare cheque to flip burgers? I’d have to DO SOMETHING, lose my free welfare cheque, lose my generous drug and dental coverage, and start to have to pay income taxes — how does that get me ahead? Far better to get the cheque, and I can always push drugs or sell my body to earn some extra scratch that the evil government can’t get their hands on.

    I don’t blame the poor. I blame the insanity of the generous subsidy, and the lack of enforcement of limiting the gravy train for the able-bodied. When an upper-aged teen sees that dropping out of school provides a welfare cheque of $X per month, versus slogging away at the books at tremendous cost in $ and leisure time, versus dropping out and getting a job at tremendous cost in leisure time and not-marginally-better paycheque (vs. the “free” welfare dough), you know you have a problem.

    Is that a bit more of a meaningful discussion for you? Happy to oblige.

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