Government by the bureaucrats, of the bureaucrats, for the bureaucrats…

PSAC calls on all members to back coalition

OTTAWA — Canada’s largest public servants’ union is planning to join a national campaign to support a coalition that could topple the minority Conservatives.

The Public Service Alliance of Canada is joining a number of groups, including the Canadian Labour Congress, to hold rallies across the country this week to back a Liberal and NDP coalition after the Conservatives failed to provide the much-needed stimulus to kickstart a weakening economy.

The union is also urging its members to call, fax or e-mail their MPs to voice their support for a coalition government…

Public servants are supposed to be non-partisan, but PSAC has always publicly supported “labour-friendly” candidates during elections. 

PSAC president John Gordon rejected suggestions that such a campaign contradicted the bureaucracy’s non-partisanship. “Public servants are taxpayers and they have a right to make a statement on who should be the government or not,” he said late Sunday night. “Just because you work for the public service doesn’t mean you have to abrogate your right to express who should be government. It’s a democratic society.”

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  1. A union supporting the left – big news.

    Next thing you know, big business will be supporting the Conservatives.

    So what?

  2. What do you expect Andrew?

    Any ideas why the Conservatives are so adept at making virulent enemies whenever they open their mouths?

  3. Wow. A union organization supporting a coalition that would see the NDP sharing power?! And wanting to ensure the turfing of the party that wanted to eliminate the right of the same organization’s members to strike?

    This *is* shocking.

  4. Good spotting. We all know that one of the most powerhouse political forces in our country is, ahh, PSAC.

  5. …or, more germanely, opposing a government that last week wanted to force it to take a pay cut and remove the right for it to strike.

  6. This is fantastic news, bring it on I say. There message can be, ‘hey everybody, lets all go back the ’70’s and early 80’s when unions and bureaucrats were in charge and we had wage/price controls, oil crisis’, stagflation, huge deficits and massive job losses’.

  7. Will we see public protests if Dion forms a coalition government?

  8. “Just because you work for the public service doesn’t mean you have to abrogate your right to express who should be government. It’s a democratic society.”

    And I love it when unions talk about democratic ideals when they have to use coercion to get people to join, and ‘donate’, to their organizations.

  9. This wasn’t a FU Flaherty and Harper introduced to parliament. It was a knee-capping attempt and score-settling document.

    The Conservatives deserve the backlash they are getting on this.

  10. Two ways to ensure a cooperative bureaucracy: remove their right to strike and start making noise about cuts to the public service or court them into supporting a coup de trough and give them a “modest” 6% wage increase plus whatever else the “stimulus” will bear in the details.

    Will someone emerge from this voicing a national interest? Justin Trudeau or any liberal publicly denounce the process as treasonous instability long past its viability as a response to the government plan.

  11. The PSAC, the most recent blinds to be double-blinded.

    To whom it may concern,

    In a country where the blind prefer to be led by the blind, it isn’t strange at all to not be able to recognise (or follow) the one who actually sees.

    Stephen Harper is the one person being accused of having made so many mistakes, of having done the wrong thing, especially when it comes to his introduction of proposing to eliminate public funding for political parties.

    So, for the blind out there, let me try and paint a picture that might become very clear in the mind.

    For years now, (if not generations) the Canadian political ‘game’ has always turned around the presence of Quebec within a united nation. Several attempts by Quebec to separate itself from Canada have been unsuccessful. Proposed referendum question have always been unclear, for the Quebec people as well as for the people living in the rest of Canada, and have been defeated each and every time.

    And so the Clarity Act Bill (which btw had been a brain wave of Mr.Harper before Mr.Dion had so proudly introduced it to the house) had been passed.

    But the Quebec aspirations had not been laid to rest. On the contrary: the Quebec people have only become politically smarter and have become much better prepared by having organised themselves into an alternative fashion altogether. They have found their new voice as the BQ, and they will now be able to grab onto REAL political power.

    A very smart move on the part of the Quebec people. Now they have a party which can participate fully within Canadian federal elections, a party which during federal election time:

    does not have to field 308 candidates,

    does not have to provide a national economic outlook

    does not have to provide a national social outlook

    does not have to provide a national cultural outlook

    does not have to provide a comprehensive international outlook

    does not have to campaign travel across this expansive nation

    does not have to outline a proposed national budget

    does not have to know about the rest of the country

    does not have to care about the rest of the country

    does not have to provide a leader who might have to act as PM

    does not have to do anything except:

    care about what the Quebec people want

    care about what the Quebec people demand

    care about how much the ROC can be suckered


    believing that:

    the BQ should be able to fully participate in federal election debates

    the BQ should be able to get the full, favourable support from our national media

    the BQ should be able to pretend to be eligible as a federal party

    the BQ should be able to say openly that destroying this country is a good thing, and besides,

    the BQ should be able to receive federal funding for saying that

    the BQ should be able to receive federal tax payers money for furthering its cause to undermine Canada

    and NOW:

    the BQ should be able to hold within its hands the ultimate federal power by being asked to prop up an opposition-led coalition.

    Make no mistake about it: Mr.Harper, and the Conservative Party of Canada, has never, ever proposed a coalition government with the help of a separatist party. (The Conservative minority government only requires 12 additional votes coming from other parties, and does not have to court the BQ under any circumstance.)

    But within this proposed opposition-led coalition, the BQ’s full participation is the needed ingredient; without the BQ cooperation, the coaltion COULD NOT exist! That is the difference not being talked about, but Jack saw a good thing coming.

    And so then, when Mr.Harper proposes to eliminate the propping up a separatist party with federal tax payer’s money, by proposing to do away with public funding for all political parties, it is Mr.Harper who is accused of seeing things wrongly.

    So, here we find ourselves, the blind still willing to be led by the blind; the so-called proposed coalition government will pretend that the BQ is only playing a supporting role, thereby pulling the wool over the already blind. A double blindness has now set in across this nation.

    Soon, very soon, Canada will find itself being governed by a coalition who cannot help but cater to the wishes of a party which cares for nothing but:

    to separate,

    yet, to salvage the Quebec economy on the backs of Canadian output

    to go green according to Quebec’s standards, not the national standards,

    to care for nothing but Quebec’s wellbeing (see long lists above)

    all the while pretending that the Quebec’s wellbeing has never been as a result of having being protected under a united Canada.

    Mr.Harper has shown his weakness by having dropped the elimination of public funding for political party proposal. But I can understand why he must have felt so very weak. Who would be strong enough the lead this nation when the nation is unable to see? Who is capable of healing a double blindness?

    When the wool is being pulled over the eyes of the already blind, then what hope is there for any ‘seeing’ leader to make things clear? NONE!

    This upheaval is not about the lack of a stimulus package. What possibly could a stimulus package provide at this time? Work for all? Eternal bliss? Eternal business buyouts for the favourably selected? Satisfying a Quebec appetite which can never be satisfied? Propping up all individual losses that have occurred on the national and international stockmarkets? Be able to heal all of the sick? Be able to solve all women’s rights issues? Be able to make every child smart?

    Mr.Harper’s proposal to eliminate public support for political parties, should have been debated about, could perhaps have been critisized for wanting to be implemented too soon. Different time-lines could have been proposed. But we were mislead. The opposition parties had other preconcieved plans; some had been busy spinning the wool faster than the backs of sheep could produce it.

    (btw, the Liberal party has governed for years as majority government on a 38% of the total vote. So saying that 62% of the vote should now demand, ‘democratically’, to be given power is an outright lie; our Canadian electoral system is not set up to draw any such conclusion, especially not when taking into consideration that 50 seats in the house are filled up by BQ, a party which doesn’t even have to qualify under federal status qualifications. Heck, the BQ doesn’t even have to qualify by being Canadian! – see lists above).

    I have to go now. I’m feeling a bit nauseated.

    “Oh, Canada, Who will stay on guard for thee?”

  12. Ah yes!
    Voltaire’s Bastards strike again!
    Having kittens yet Andrew?

  13. This is what we were waiting for all that time: The Red Guard coming out of their barracks and taking to the streets. We are taking about Great Canadian December Revolution here. I just wonder if Toronto Red Guards are going to board the HMCS Haida still moored at Ontario Place and fire the first shots to mark the official start of the Red Terror.

  14. Andrew, you are a long time vociferous advocate of proportional representation. Aren’t you getting just what you have long advocated for. Canada’s first government based on proportional representation.

  15. Ah, how wonderful, let’s let the unions take over. We see how well that’s worked for the Big 3 Automakers.

  16. Last week, the public sector unions were making conciliatory gestures to the Conservatives, agreeing to the need for concessions and restraint in contract negotiations given the current economic crisis. I can’t imagine, Andrew, why they’d be slightly more hostile to Harper now. You’d think the unions would be happy Harper decided to return their goodwill by trying to take away their right to strike, wouldn’t you? Why aren’t they thanking Harper? For shame!

  17. Thank God the temperature is above freezing!
    I’m about to bury in the backyard what little money I have left.

  18. Mr. Coyne evidently doesn’t like public service unions and would prefer a government that would confront them and reduce their strength. Of course he was also a strong supporter of other measures in the disastrous economic update of last week.

  19. I don’t think it is unreasonable for the public service to remain neutral politically, and I think it would be wise for them to do so.

  20. Come on Andrew, you are being ridiculous.

    1) this isn’t the bureaucracy, it is representatives thereof. Anyone that has ever had any kind of official/unofficial representative knows they don’t always do/ay what you want.

    2) is it really shocking that said representative would be happy to see the party that just threatened one of the basic rights of the people they represent (relating directly to their ability to represent the interests of their principles) go?

  21. What did you expect when Harper’s been needlessly antagonizing every single leftist interest group since he came to power?

  22. Can someone please explain to me why the Boc propping up a Lib/NDP coalition is any different from the Bloc propping up a Tory minority?

    The simple fact of the matter is that Harper needs the support of one of the three parties in order to pass anything. By spending 6 months mocking Dion for backing down in the House, he made it certain that the Liberals, diminished in number, would have greater resolve and would not make the same mistakes in this Parliament as the last. The NDP, on the other hand, have voted against every government on every confidence measure in 25 years, save one budget. So Mr. Harper can only rely on the Bloc to pass anything.

    Don’t get me wrong, the Bloc holding a “balance of power” (I hate that term) is bothersome, but it is no more bothersome under a Liberal, or coalition government than it would be under a Tory government. Harper made his bed. He can lie in it. And he’s been more than happy to share the covers with Duceppe and the Bloc himself. He would have been happy three days ago to have the Bloc support him. Just as four years ago he suggested they form a government with him. So while I sympathize with the argument that the Bloc influence is a bad thing, it’s no worse under one government than another.

    As for PSAC, well, this will be the first time in history that PSAC has ever said anything nice about the liberals. It’s probably inappropriate that a group that purports to represent the non-partisan public service take such a step. There’s a fine line between supporting the professional interests of their membership on the one hand, and using that membership to influence how Parliament functions on the other. Not sure if they’ve crossed it… yet.

  23. Best news so far ….. Francien is going.

  24. Terry86 said: “I don’t think it is unreasonable for the public service to remain neutral politically, and I think it would be wise for them to do so.”

    Agreed. Methinks PSAC should shut up and keep out of this mess as much as possible (threatened no-strike legislation or not). Public servants work in the best interest of all Canadians, regardless of for whom they vote. Or so goes the ideal (to which I’d like to ascribe).

  25. Clarification on “shut up and keep out of this mess”: PSAC is more than welcome to criticise matters that affect their members. Just don’t tell the members how to vote or who to support.

  26. As ridiculous as everything going on right now is, this has to be good news for the conservatives. Let it happen I say. Let them all take power and implement their “plan”. Let them be in charge when it does absolutely nothing to revive the economy. Let them take the fall. And then get ready for the inevitable majority that comes from this mess. The Liberals especially are taking a stupid gamble on this power play. They made their point, stood up to Harper’s arrogance, and humbled him a bit. Why do they wish to risk everything in order to supervise a inevitable recession.

  27. Hazzard: Yes as riduculous as everything is going on … etc…..

    See the TSX this morning????? How much is that a vote of confidences for the “coalition”???

  28. whyshouldIsellyourwheat , and Mark

    Both of you do not understand the difference between PR and the current electoral setting out of which this malaise has been spun.

    Under true PR , coalition governments are indeed formed by precentages coming out of election results.

    Our current system of first past the post, gives us an unrealistic division of the House. For instance, the Liberals under Chretien have managed to form a majority for many years with only 38% of the vote (which meant that 62% of the voters had NOT voted for them, jus like the opposition claims today).

    Under first past the post, many votes are indeed discounted or propped up by the result. But, and this is a big difference, any party which received the most seats during elections under the current system, forms government for the sole reason that such party needs the LEAST votes coming from other parties within the house. The Conservative minority government needs only 12 votes coming from the opposition parties for the government to be able to pass legislation.

    The Liberals and the NDP cannot even gather enough votes amongst themselves to pass any legislation, and they MUST have the support from most members of the BQ to be successfull. In fact only 12 BQ could deviate before the House would fall under this new coalition government.

    And that is besides the fact that the Liberals and NDP have so little in common, as publically proclaimed during the past election.

    If Canada wants coalition governments, we better move to PR immediately, but not AFTER the coup has been accomplished, but before.

    We must not pretend that we are now electing governments under the PR system because we are not. That is the illusion, or delusion, whichever you prefer.

  29. Sisyphus,

    “Best news so far ….. Francien is going.”

    It may not be clear to some where I’m going, but if you look closely, I would like to go there where democracy reigns.

    And it ain’t reigning there where power hungry men meet – behind the scenes. We’re all considered lambchops when it comes to being kept in the dark.

    Funny. No one seems to want to take on the challenge for trying to disprove the points I summed up within my long letter.

    Silence means approval, not?

  30. For clarification:

    This is how a Canadian democratic picture might look like as of next week:

    9% of the electoral votes received will be able hold onto complete power. The 50 BQ seats come out of 9% federal support, and 38 out of those 50 seats will be needed to hold a LIb-NDP coalition into stable power.

    Can anyone see this picture as realistic, or perhaps as being democratic? Should any Canadian object to going back to the polls, rather than being force fed a coalition governement, under these sets of circumstances?

    I know I would go back to the polls because I know I should.

  31. Let me make things clearer yet

    ( I hope Andrew Coyne doesn’t mind, but I’m feeling a bit angry, but that is because it is difficult to paint a clear picture with words)

    So if, within our current electoral system, 9% of the votes received will allow for optimum power into the hands of the BQ, and it will since 38 MP’s votes of that particual party are a MUST to make this coalition thing happen,

    but WE, as Canadian taxpayers, have been AIDING the BQ in getting there, by paying for the political party subsidies,

    which in turn (the debate about party subsidies) has been able to side track this whole financial update debate,

    which in turn makes it possible for the BQ to hold ulimate power into its hands.

    And we now have seemed to find the scapegoat in all of this: his name is Harper. It must be lonely when being on top of things.

  32. You know, watching Obama make his announcement and handle his press conference this morning, so smooth, intelligent and guileless, without visible hatred or rancor, there wasn’t a single Harper moment, I couldn’t help but wonder if we have underestimated the impact he’s had on Canada as well as the rest of the world. The talk shows don’t seem to be overwhelmed with Conservatives with their talking points, if anything it seems the other way. Andrew, it’s the Obama effect. Canadians want something better. Don’t overlook it.

  33. Well Mr. Coyne, this may explain why the government hasn’t been conservative enough for you.

    We see what happens when it does introduce a conservative measure… :p

  34. Oh well…… a brief absence is better than none.

  35. The only thing surprising about this Andrew is that you would be shocked, shocked!! that PSAC would take this position. Harper and the Conservatives make an unnecessary, boneheaded move to remove the right to strike away from public sector unions and you expect them to respond positively to this?

  36. Andrew, what did you think of Deborah Coyne’s interview today on CBC?

  37. I think the Liberals have treated the Public Service worse though Harper seems poised to catch up.

  38. Layton, in his taped gloating, alluded to participation of organized labour in his secret dealings with the Bloc, right from the get go. We can be quite certain the powerful public service unions will have had a significant roll in this coup once it is all over.

  39. “Public servants are taxpayers and they have a right to make a statement on who should be the government or not,” he said late Sunday night. “Just because you work for the public service doesn’t mean you have to abrogate your right to express who should be government. It’s a democratic society.”

    The man is entirely correct. A democracy means that a plurality of voters gets to plunder from and enslave the non-plurality – as long as the enslaved are occasionally given an opportunity to vote in a plundering gang of their own choosing. That’s your constitution in a nutshell.

    Don’t sulk because the PSAC understands democracy better than you do, and are not ashamed to flaunt their superior knowledge. You chose to place all of the property in the country into a centralized pile and then hold a lying contest to see who controls it, so suck it up and take it like a man.

  40. I have never been so disgusted with the antics of our political leadership as I am now. Starting with Harper who has proved to be as nasty and vindictive a bully as the opposition claimed. The so-called “financial update” was one of the worst partisan hack jobs I have ever seen – the equivalent of a bullly trying to shove poison down the throat of a dog that he has just kicked in the gutter. So the howls of outrage from the opposition were justified. Surprisingly, the opposition managed to put aside their differences long enough to cobble gether a nasty WMD pointed at straight at Harper’s head – a pretty remarkable achievement for an ineffective, lame duck party leader and a guy who never dreamed of getting this close to power.

    And that’s where they should have quit. Harper predictably, began backpedaling as rapidly as he could, reversing his positions on the more objectionable material in the statement. But nope, that wasn’t enough for the snivelling hyenas. Now that they had scented blood, they were ready to do some serious ripping out of throats (after all, they were still kind of pissed off about all those humiliating confidence votes in the last Parliament).

    Forget about co-operation. For get about political stability being good for the country (and the economy). Lets get ourselves some revenge.

    And the truly frightening thing is that I don’t believe that any of the individuals involved have the temperament, intelligence or political skills to put the interests of the country above partisan stupidity. I’m not sure which group I want to see emerge victorious from this stupidity – neither has my confidence. What is a sane centrist supposed to do in a mess like this?

  41. It dawned on me: Harper has shown himself to be very tactically adept over the past few years. He has usually taken a disciplined, long-term view of events. He must, therefore, have foreseen the consequences of a confidence fiscal update that undermined opposition party funding, prevented public unions from striking, etc. *Of course* the opposition was going to vote it down, and of course it would get people talking about a coalition government, even if he gave the brief appearance of backing down on some the provisions of the update.

    I’m going to make a bold claim: I think that he saw all of this coming. Stewing in the weeks after the election, he probably thought something like, “If I can’t get a majority facing Dion, I’m never going to get one.” Two weeks ago it likely occurred to him that a term in opposition, watching a weak coalition government with socialists and separatists face an economic crisis, might not be such a bad thing. He’s betting that such a coalition won’t last more than a year or two, and in the meantime, he can sidestep responsibility for the tough times. When the coalition government falls, or even if it somehow lasts for a full term, the conservatives would return with a massive majority.

    This question of whether such a coalition is “fair” or “democratic” is moot. It’s constitutionally legal, and with precedent, and any claims of engineering “Bloc support” are disingenuous by virtue of the Conservatives depending on Bloc support in 2006, and how they would need it now anyways. My point is this: the coalition is not good for the Liberals or the left. If we have a coalition government now, we’re probably facing a conservative majority in 2010 or 2011. They need to adopt Harper’s talent for the long view.


  42. Steve C

    The only flaw I see in your reasoning is that Harper is more than likely to lose his job if Cons get kicked to the curb next week, unless you are arguing the caucus had prior knowledge about the plan and ok’ed it.

  43. Everyone knows it: no one has as cushy a job and as generous a pay package as those civil servants who actually do very little work, if any, for the amount of money and perks they receive courtesy of the taxpayers – if they are not too busy, that is, defrauding the taxpayers by misappropriating government-issued credit cards.

    Stephen Harper was prepared to take away the public service union’s right to strike. Great idea and long overdue. Strike action is the same thing as blackmail, which is a criminal act. Besides, unions, when they still served a purpose, unlike today, were created to protect factory workers, but not white-collar pencil pushers who run crying to mommy whenever they break a nail.

  44. hi JWL,

    I think that Harper is fairly confident in his ability to keep control of the party – if my overall claim is right, then this was also part of his calculation. There will be dissent, probably even calls for a leadership review, but he has kept the spotlight away from his MPs so effectively that there is no viable leadership contender waiting in the wings. Jim Prentice? Peter MacKay? Stockwell Day? On the whole, unlikely.

    Obviously the whole caucus wouldn’t have known (apparently Stockwell Day, for example, refused to stand for Harper’s announcement the other day,) but perhaps a few important ones did, or have reasoned this out for themselves.

  45. Steve Coyne, all that would be a nice theory if he hadn’t spent the past weekend back-pedaling. Harper’s biggest mistake, in my view, was backing down. He should have heaped on more insult. After letting the Opposition stew on it all weekend, he could have come back Monday and announced that, in addition to eliminating party subsidies, he was also eliminating the tax credit for political donations, and all reimbursement given to candidates for campaign expenses. Then dare the Opposition to defeat him (which they would have, right there and then.) Then he could hold the moral high-ground for the next six months or so as the coalition made a laughing stock of every file handed to them. He would then have coasted to a majority in the spring or summer. The fact that he backed down almost immediately shows just how surprised he is that the Opposition really does have a pair (or three).

  46. You’re so intellectually dishonest, Andrew ol’ pal.

    Government by the bureaucrats? No, elected officials govern. Bureaucrats are there to keep the machinery working, do the bidding of the government, and there are a few extra parliamentary bodies there to add checks and balances to the government.
    Government of the bureaucrats? Duh. Government ‘of” everyone.
    Government for the bureaucrats? That’s a laugh. Bureaucrats do OK, this much is true, but governments certainly do not make any efforts to help them. In fact, they’re fond of freezing their salaries and laying them off.

    How does a dishonest man like you get a big job at one of Canada’s less-reviled rags?

  47. Werner Patels
    Dec 2, 2008 17:19
    Report Abuse

    Everyone knows it: no one has as cushy a job and as generous a pay package as those civil servants who actually do very little work, if any, for the amount of money and perks they receive courtesy of the taxpayers – if they are not too busy, that is, defrauding the taxpayers by misappropriating government-issued credit cards.

    Stephen Harper was prepared to take away the public service union’s right to strike. Great idea and long overdue. Strike action is the same thing as blackmail, which is a criminal act. Besides, unions, when they still served a purpose, unlike today, were created to protect factory workers, but not white-collar pencil pushers who run crying to mommy whenever they break a nail.
    HAHAHAHAHHHA… BWAHAHAHA… oh me oh my… yes, public servants do nothing. they rub themselves all over with their paycheques each week, while they try to figure out new ways to legalize criminal activities, like blackmail. Absolutely right. Oh yes and it’s public servant policy to mis-use government-issued credit cards. People who do things like that never get terminated or anything. OH, and bad apples are purely a public service phenomenon. Nobody ever steals from private companies (like mis-using the company credit card).

    YOU ARE AN IDIOT. Go back to grade school and develop some sort of intellectual credibility. How do you even have a blog? I recognize that throwing up on canvas might be considered art, but I don’t think it would remain art if it was done on a daily (if not more) basis.

  48. I’m a federal public servant, I support the coalition, but … it leaves a bad taste hearing my union tell me to act politically as a public servant. We are free as to take political stands outside of the arena of employment, but as an organisation we should be non-partisan, and led in a non-partisan way.

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