Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Christmas Cutbacks

I invite you all to go check out Wolfman Brad over at Long Cold Night for his posting on Christmas cutbacks!!!

Atta go Wolfman!!

Friday, December 21, 2007

The hunting and diet of the Sask Party Caucus

Knowing that Brad Wall and Sask Party are truly wolves in sheep's clothing, it is of interest to fully understand their feeding and hunting regime..

Packs of MLA's cooperatively hunt any large Unions in their range. Pack hunting revolves around the chase, as MLA's are able to run for long periods before relenting. It takes careful cooperation for a pack to take down a large Union, and the rate of success for such chase is very low.

MLA's, in the interest of saving energy, will only chase one potential union for the first thousand or so meters before giving up and trying at a different time against a different union. Therefore, like most other pack species, MLA's must hunt continually to sustain themselves. Solitary MLA's depend more on smaller animals, which they capture by pouncing and pinning with their rhetoric. This technique is also common among other canids such as the CFIB and NSBA.

MLA's diets include, but are not limited to, Federation Presidents, Union Presidents, workers and other large organized voices. The SFL is probably the heaviest animal MLA's prey on — federations weighing more than a 100,000 members having been taking hits by a pack. They also prey on past governments and other small groups in a limited manner, as a typical adult MLA requires a minimum of 1.1 rediculous allegations each day for sustenance, and approximately 2.2 archaic bills to reproduce successfully. MLA's rarely succeed each day, but compensate by trying to silence up to 100,000 workers at a time.

When pursuing large prey, MLA's generally attack from all angles, targeting the necks and sides of their prey. MLA packs test large populations of prey species by initiating a fixed election date and used car tax break, targeting the less-fit electorate. Such electoarte typically include the elderly, lower income and young. Healthy voters, such as the rich, may also succumb through circumstance.

Healthy, fit Federations of Labour will not run from MLA's and will instead choose to stand their ground. This defensive technique increases the possibility of injury to the preying MLAs. The MLAs, not willing to risk injury, are more likely to yield when encountered with such a bold individual. Instead, they will try to target weaker unionized members that are easier and safer to hunt. MLAs are generally inefficient at killing large healthy Federation, with success rates as low as 20% which is due, in part, to the large size and defensive capabilities of the Union.

Like many other keystone predators, Sask Party MLAs are sensitive to fluctuations in the abundance of prey. They are likely to have minor changes in their populations as the abundance of their primary prey species gradually rises and drops over long periods of time. This balance between the MLAs and their prey prevents the mass starvation of both predator and prey.

Surplus killing

Surplus killing is defined as the killing of several small unions too numerous to eat at one sitting. During a surplus-kill, a predator's killing instinct is continually sparked off by the stimuli of so many prey animals unable to escape, so that the predator cannot stop killing. An instance of surplus killing by right wing governments was witnessed in Canada's Federal Conservative Party, where instances of Prosperity Gaps are seen daily.

Who's afraid of Whom...Big Brad Wolf?

I will finally give in that Brad Wall is not a wolf. A wolf is a smart and majestic animal that fears little. Brad Wall does not fit either of those descriptions.

It is pretty clear, that he is scared speechless of Larry Hubich and the Saskatchewan Federation of Labour who represents 100,000 unionized workers within Saskatchewan.

Premier Wall keeps saying that he is wants to "consult" with the major stake-holders in the province. He, and his Deputy Ministers, are looking for "feedback" on issues such as Bill 5 and Bill 6 and yet he refuses to meet with Federation President Hubich in person.

Hubich has offered via letters, calls and statements, to meet with Wall and work in a cohesive, open and co-operative manner and still, Wall has refused to meet with Hubich,

Offers to both Rob Norris and Brad Wall, who happened to be right next door, to attend the SFL Executive meeting were refused. The SFL Exec went as far as to open their agenda to accommodate their attendance. Wall states he wants Labour to participate in Enterprise Saskatchewan, yet he has not invited them to the table.

Wall is too busy trying to spark a labour fight in this province so that he can sit back and tell the CTF, CFIB and NSBA "see I told you Labour wouldn't work with us" and yet is it Wall himself who is afraid of Hubich.

I can see why Premier Wall is afraid though..

If one looks at the recent election results, you will see that the Sask Party garnered 230,671 votes, the NDP 168,704 and the Liberals 42,585 votes.

With Larry Hubich and the SFL representing close to 100,000 workers, the SFL would effectively be the second opposition party in the Legislature and Wall would have no choice but to deal with Hubich as a peer!!! That scares him to no end.

So rather than facing his fears and risking the chance that Hubich is sincere about working towards fairness, Wall resorts to typical grade two antics of name calling and accusations; ..."union leaders who were outside (in) the rotunda yesterday swearing and sputtering rather than entering into a meaningful debate."

Well Mr.Premier, you can run and you can hide, but at the end of the day, it is YOU that will have to bear the full blame for any Labour reaction to your government.

It is YOU that refuses to enter into meaningful debate, it is YOU that is refusing to meet with the SLF, it is YOU that is attacking the workers of this Province, it is YOU that is pointing the finger and name calling, and Mr Premier, it is YOU that is terrified at the thought of sitting at a table with Larry Hubich.

Whats the matter Brad....afraid that Hubich is actually a peer and wields a strong voice?

Whose afraid of the Big Brad Wolf.........

Thursday, December 20, 2007

just when you thought it was safe to be unionized

So yesterday Brad Wall and his obedient little Labour Minister introduced two bills; Bill 5 -Public Service Essential Services Act and Bill 6 - The Trade Union Amendment Act

Touting that these two Bills, essential services legislation -- a first for the province -- coupled with amendments to the existing Trade Union Act will make labour rules "fair and balanced", Brad Wall and Rob Norris have lobbied the first volley towards Organized Labour in Saskatchewan.

Saskatchewan Federation of Labour President Larry Hubich said his cursory first look at bills left him feeling that it is the "worst legislation for workers in the country" and blasted the government for failing to consult with any of those who will be impacted.

"(The legislation) isn't competitive by any stretch of the imagination. It is the bottom of the barrel," Hubich said.

What is really interesting is that there was absolutely no consultation with Labour over these changes. One would think that you would consult with stakeholders BEFORE putting legislation forward, not put it forward then go ask "how was it for you?"

The Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB) loves the idea of the changes.

A Saskatchewan representative with the Canadian Federation of Independent Business, Marilyn Braun-Pollon, was among those in the business community who cheered the changes, particularly in respect to the Trade Union Act.

"The scales have been tipped for far too long in favour of unions," she said.

So the CFIB thinks that as a unionized worker, I have had too many luxuries. My 40 hour week is bad, my right to a fair collective agreement is unjust, and my rights to organize or to strike is unbalanced with their agenda. It would also mean that my right to a living wage is unfair.

The CFIB needs to understand one thing, my UNION fought for my safety at work. my weekends, my wages and my benefits. Wages which allow me to buy housing, cars, clothes as well as shop at businesses in Saskatoon. Some of whom are members of the CFIB.

So if I get this right, the CFIB, NSBA and CTF think I make too much money and am spoiled, yet they have no problem with me spending my income at their businesses?

Braun-Pollen and her puppet, Brad Wall, forgot one other right that I will always maintain, with or without a Union...the right to decide where I spend my money!!!

With Christmas here and the potential for me, my family and friends to spend our BAD Union money in stores throughout Saskatoon, you can count on one thing....if you are a member of the CFIB, then obviously my money is no good at your business, don't be upset if I spend it where it is appreciated!!!!

Joan Beatty courted, Dion oversteps

In the Prince George Citizen, they are reporting that Joan Beatty, the first Aboriginal woman elected to the Saskatchewan legislature is considering a leap to federal politics.

New Democrat Joan Beatty says she's been approached by both the NDP and the Liberals to run federally in a northern Saskatchewan riding.

Beatty has not made a decision as of yet but acknowledges that she has several to make, including whether to run federally and if so, for which party.

She says she'll talk to her family and constituents in Cumberland over the holidays and make a decision in early January.

What is of interest is that Dion is already touting that she will run for the Liberals??

Dion needs to show some respect, not only for David Orchard and other candidates seeking the nomination but to women as well. Appointing a candidate bypasses any democratic values but appointing a candidate whom as not even decided if she is willing to run for your party is downright arrogant...

I invite you to check out Angry in the Great White North, who makes an excellent point in his blog.

This coming from someone who cannot stand up to the Harper regime nor keep his own house in order...

Karwacki packs it in

Ok, so after two consecutive shut outs in the Provincial Election, and a defeat in the Weyburn Big Muddy by Election, David Karwacki has decided to call it quits.

Citing that it was "time to move on" there was a mixed message coming from Mr. Karwacki. On the CBC News RSS, he states that been Liberal Leader "was fun" and that he didn't want to turn into a career politician.

Yet on Global, he stated that he didn't want to be the leader of a party with two seats, he wanted to be Premier.

I am not sure which of those two statements would be considered the most accurate, but if a leader of a political party cannot make up his mind as to what he wants to do, then it is no wonder two consecutive shut outs were delivered to him.

When I look at the state of the Provincial Liberals and the failure to identify themselves as a right of centre party (they cannot attract the left of centre in Sask) then look at the Federal Liberals, with their infighting and lack of solid leadership, I can see the next Federal election becoming a two party race, just like our Provincial Politics.

The next Federal Election will present itself with one of two options here in Saskatchewan.

Stephen Harper and his right wing government, or Jack Layton and the NDP who represent the working class....

My choice is easy!!!

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Nothing beats a one man band!!!

As Brad Wall settles into his new job as Premier someone needs to tell him that there are another 37 people around him who have put their names on the line as well.

I invite you all to read Randy Burton's column in the Star Phoenix, which is also posted below.

Sask. Party not so proactive

Imagine yourself to be a member of a brand new government, anxious to win friends and influence people.

As part of the government's Saskatoon caucus, you are a key part of the party's future. After all, no conservative party has taken five seats in the province's largest city since Grant Devine's historic sweep of 1982.

It's important to get off to a good start in order to demonstrate your government understands the concerns of urban families.

After all, did you not campaign on bringing a family-oriented focus to government, including a $150 tax credit for sports and music activities?

Sure you did. And it was the right thing to do, too.

How then, you might wonder, are you going to justify your decision to close the Blackstrap ski hill for the winter? The place is a great training ground for kids trying to learn a new sport, and even better, it's easily accessible via bus. Anything that gets the kids off of the couch and out the door to actually get some exercise would have to be seen as a good idea.

Why, your own leader Premier Brad Wall joined the call for action just two months ago in the midst of the provincial election campaign when he announced his Saskatchewan Families Benefit in the basement of a Silverwood area home.

On that day, he promised to extend an $18 million tax credit to families that could be applied to music lessons and sports equipment, like a snowboard or a set of skis, perhaps.

As proof of the wisdom of such a policy, Wall cited a study of the Saskatchewan health-care system that shows every one per cent increase in physical activity participation rates actually saves taxpayers $1.37 million in health-care costs annually.

At a time when national health-care experts are wringing their hands over childhood obesity, this decision lands like a failed back flip in the halfpipe. When you look at the Blackstrap situation in that context, the $465,000 operating costs for the hill begin to look more like a sound investment than an irretrievable cost.

Certainly Wall was enthusiastic about the value of physical activity to young people during the campaign. Active kids "perform better in school, are in better shape physically and are less likely to get involved in negative behaviour like smoking, drug use and crime," he said.

So now that he has three cabinet ministers in Saskatoon and two more MLAs waiting on the bench, what do they say? They say let's close the ski hill. And this is at a time when skiing conditions have rarely been better. Take a look out the window and what you see is wonderful snow cover and moderate temperatures.

It seems to me an enterprising MLA might like to point out a few things to the new premier. One is he has talked a great deal about reducing the "infrastructure deficit" in this province, and Blackstrap certainly fits the bill as part of the province's recreational infrastructure.

Something else a freshly minted cabinet minister might like to consider is how the previous government handled this issue. The same pattern of closures followed by periodic bursts of commitment have long characterized Blackstrap. Last year, the government spent $863,000 on new lifts and a groomer, but failed to open the hill until February. Then it was late launching the tender process to find an operator for this season and the process ground to a halt because of the provincial election.

Clearly, this is an opportunity to do better, but here we sit on the brink of another Christmas holiday with no Blackstrap.

Of course, the government can always argue it has more important things to do. For instance, it has to pass balanced budget legislation that is virtually identical to what we already have. Then it has to change the names of all those "departments" to "ministries" don't you know. That means new letterhead, envelopes, websites, etc. etc. Nobody knows what it will cost, but it's all part of the new government's very important "rebranding" exercise.

The centrepiece of that was to be the new provincial symbol. Like poor old Blackstrap, the government believes the 30-year-old stylized wheat sheaf just doesn't cut it any more. So it was all set to launch a search for a new symbol, which would have involved advertising companies, design firms and hefty bills.

Now it's flip-flopping on whether to change it or not. Since last week, the provincial government has expressed four different positions on the wheat sheaf, none of them conclusive. The latest is it won't change the wheatsheaf logo "at this time."

So here's an idea for a governing party that wants to make more friends in Saskatoon.

Take that money and run Blackstrap with it.

Reaching out to whom?

So the new Minister of Labour is going to be meeting with the NSBA in Saskatoon on Friday, Dec 21st.

It is so ironic that Rob Norris would find the time to meet with the NSBA and yet have no time to meet with the Saskatchewan Federation of Labour's Executive last week in Regina.

As Federation President, Larry Hubich points out;

"The SFL invited Rob Norris, the New Minister, to attend our SFL Executive Council meeting at any time convenient to him on either Wednesday or Thursday last week. (December 12th or 13th). He was invited by letter, by telephone, and by a personal invitation from me. I extended the personal invitation to him when he and I met on December 6.

We even invited him to join us for our Christmas luncheon on the 13th. He declined.

So, he declines to take 20 or 30 minutes out of his schedule to meet with the executive of the organization in this province that represents close to 100,000 citizens whose constitutional and charter rights will be affected by potential changes to "labour law". Yet he is prepared to be the Luncheon speaker for the NSBA (North Saskatoon Business Association).

So much for "reaching out to labour".

(On an additional point, The Premier was down the hall in the same hotel on the 12th attending lunch at a seminar where Washington, D.C.-based energy consultant, Paul Michael Wihbey, president of Global Water and Energy Strategy Team (GWEST) was speaking about exploiting Saskatchewan's oil and gas.)"

Sunday, December 9, 2007

Hello 911....Where can I get bacon at 4 am?

Ok so our "Progressive" City Council in Saskatoon (with the exception of Charlie Clark) has now decided that they should back out of controlling store hours and have left it up to the employer to decide. The reason...."people who work shift work cannot get to stores...."

Who was first to step up to the challenge and make workers work the late shifts? Why it was our community partner and labour relations guru WalMart. They took all of three days to announce they were going to be open 24 hours. Workers are now forced to work midnight to 8 am for minimum wage.

Now Lablaws Canada has announced that it will be opening their store 24hours. For all you folks that need bacon or toilet paper at 3 am, you can now enjoy "no line" ups at the Superstore on 8th street.

Home Depot is also considering opening 24hours.

So, although I have never had the urge to drywall at 3 am, or the sudden need to buy a gift, cd or underwear at 4 am, nor have I ever been in the situation where the 3 am need for consumables could not be filled by the local Macs or 7/11, we now have the option to shop all night long!!! WHOOPEE!!!!!

Now rather than go home half corked from the bar, we can go terrorize the young workers with no rights at Walmart and Superstore!!!! I'll see all you at Superstore in an hour, (grocery cart race trials will be in aisle 12 starting at 330) (the monthly midnight munchies meetings will be held in the dry good section at 230)

Using the same logic City Council used to open stores 24 hours, and assuming none of their kids will be the ones working those shifts, Councillors should also be accepting phone calls from people in their wards 24 hours a day.

Imagine the shift worker, who has no time to shop during the hours they are not working, having a problem with snow removal, garbage collection, taxes or any other important issue. They should be able to call their local Councillor no matter what time of the day it is. After all if Council agrees our time is important, then they should have no issue with us calling them.

If this City Council feels that stores should be open 24 hours to accommodate people's needs then I think it is high time they themselves started to accept calls 24 hours.

So while Nova Scotia is passing legislation restricting store hours, Saskatoon is opening the doors for business...

I for one will relish the idea of calling Myles Heidt or Maurice Neault at 330 AM to complain about snow removal or garbage collection, then again, maybe they won't be home and will be out getting groceries or their shopping done.

Friday, December 7, 2007

one step forward....two steps retraction, anyone want to dance?

So here we are again, doing the Sask Party dance..

Despite statements that the newly elected Brad Wall will work with groups and have consultation with all parties affected by new legislation, the Sask Government is going to move ahead on essential services legislation and talk to stakeholders about it"later".

Labour Minister Rob Norris says consultations will take place after the legislation is put forward during the fall session of the legislature, which starts Monday.
He says the Saskatchewan Party government will move ahead with the bill, but adds that he'll listen to ideas from business and labour groups later. http://www.canadaeast.com/business/article/148924

Premier Brad Wall said Thursday his health minister made a mistake when he ruled out essential services legislation as an Opposition member just days before a provincial election call.

McMorris told reporters Thursday he had misspoke in October but he could not explain why that occurred. "I have been informed and I should have known this absolutely that our leader and now the premier had talked about all the different options ... not excluding legislation and I was not aware of that," he said.

Even Murray Mandryk is questioning the back peddle!! http://www.canada.com/reginaleaderpost/news/viewpoints/story.html?id=7d7976c7-6f3c-410b-9d7e-0e94ba6dec57

So if I pretend I am at my old High School Dance;
Step forward - D'Autremont is selling the Crowns,
Step back - Brad Wall says Dan is wrong
Step back - to be decided shortly
Step forward - Vote for Hickie is a vote for the Mill,
Step back - Brad Wall says Darryl was wrong
Step back - Wall scraps MOU
Step forward - No need to legislate essential services,
Step back - Wall says McMorris is wrong
Step back - Legislation slated for Dec 10th

To make matters even more scarier; Andy Iwanchuk, the NDP Labour Critic, (who deserves a blog just on him alone) comes out with a staggering rebuttal "What else to they have in store for us?"

So as the dance unfolds, I will need to get new dancing shoes, I think this is going to the dance of a lifetime and lord knows Iwanchuk isn't going to cut in at any time!!!!

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Hey Mr. Wall...try using this word "Communication"

So a few months ago Dan D'Autremont comes out saying the Sask Party will sell Securetek.

Immediately afterwards, Brad Wall comes out saying no that is not true, then old Danny comes back out and saying that he was out of the country when the Party changed their minds and no one told him.

During the election, Sask Party candidate Darryl Hickie, PA, runs on a platform of "a vote for Hickie is a vote to open the pulp mill". Apparently, someone forgot to hell Hickie that that was not the plan at all.

Last week, Premier Wall announced that they will not proceed with the MOU with Domtar...pretty much killed that idea sorry Darryl. I don't suppose you were in the bathroom or out of the country when that was decided were you?

Now here comes Premier Wall and Rob Norris with chests out touting Essential Service Legislation.

While Labour Minister Rob Norris is telling reporters the party has been looking at legislation for a year and feels it's the only option available to government to ensure essential services agreements are in place, Sask. Party MLA Don McMorris told a CBC reporter that his party would not legislate essential services because he felt it could be negotiated in contracts.

In defense of McMorris, he was out of town!!

Oh its gets better......

The Sask. Party's election platform does not make mention of essential services legislation; however, it does pledge a Sask. Party government would "work with public sector unions to ensure essential services are in place in the event of a strike or labour action."

Now according to comments from Larry Hubich, President of the Saskatchewan Federation of Labour, "While I'm sure there is some public sympathy for making sure that the public safety is protected, the legislative hammer -- particularly without a dialogue and a consultation -- is hardly conducive to a mature and respectful relationship between government and the people who (Wall) is proposing this legislation would affect,"

It is not hard to see that there is a problem within the new Government. Maybe the new paint and carpets in the offices are distracting. Possibly the new $1700.00 chairs are to pretty to be able to concentrate. Possibly MLA's are still getting lost on their way to meetings. But whatever the reason, I think Wall needs to review the definition of communication. Consultation and Communication are not bad things!!

Essential? try consultation not legislation

On Tuesday, just one day after 2,400 support staff workers, including lab technicians, at universities in Saskatoon and Regina went back to work after more than four weeks on strike. Premier Brad Wall said he wants legislation similar to Manitoba's which mandates that employers and unions establish an essential services agreement before contracts expire. "The definition for us will be we don't want patient care affected, we don't want public safety affected," Wall told reporters in the legislature

I do not know of any union in the Province that when facing a strike, does not take into consideration the impact on public safety. Of all the unions that I have dealt with, every one of them works with the employer to ensure that certain areas are not affected.

CUPE 1975 made arrangements that would keep boilers etc up and running during their strike. SGEU, made sure that any action in the highways dept was curtailed when the storm was going to hit the province. All of this was done without any legislation.

Yes, strikes are disruptive, but with out them, am employer can run roughshod over any employee. The CTF, NSBA and Chamber of Commerce, who are all about union busting, could care less about issues facing the workers and only focus on what they can put into their own pockets.

The CTF ,et al, seem to forget that without a union strike, they would not have a Monday to Friday job. They would not get 11 Statutory holidays, or 3 weeks of vacation or overtime pay not mention maternity leave.

Now while Wall said details of the essential services legislation would come next week during the fall sitting of the legislature, Opposition Leader Lorne Calvert called it "a major, major piece of legislation" that requires a great deal of consultation.

No wonder Labour groups are surprised they weren't consulted. Wall refuses to even attempt to work with the Saskatchewan Federation of Labour on issues and in turn is only going to attempt to bully unions into submission.

"Well, it would seem to me that if the new government is going to be introducing legislation that impacts on a significant number of the citizens in the province, that they would want to at least talk to the people who are going to be impacted by it," Larry Hubich of the Saskatchewan Federation of Labour said.

Well, Larry, apparently your 93,500 working class people don't get a say on it all!!!!


Wednesday, December 5, 2007

More Sask Party Horse "PULP"

So here we are, a new government. a new vision, a new way to get pulped.

Last Friday, the Saskatchewan Party government announced it will not be proceeding with the MOU signed by the former NDP government and Domtar regarding the Prince Albert pulp mill.

The Saskatchewan Party said on Friday that it wants to continue discussions with Domtar regarding the reopening of the mill but will not offer grants, loans or equity investments to the company. In a press conference after financial markets closed on Friday afternoon, Sask. Party Energy and Resources Minister Bill Boyd said the September agreement was scrapped because of its provision for up to $99 million in direct government investment, including $32.5 million in government grants.

Boyd said the province is open to new talks with Domtar about different forms of assistance to get the mill reopened but acknowledged the government is not bringing forth its own proposals to the company.

During the election campaign, a Saskatchewan Party MLA who ran on a pledge of getting the Prince Albert Pulp Mill reopened said the new government will try hard to get it open but acknowledged Tuesday it may not happen.

Darryl Hickie, the Saskatchewan Party MLA for Prince Albert Carlton, said he told voters on the doorstep that "a vote for Darryl Hickie is a vote to open the mill."

But he said Tuesday that voters shouldn't necessarily turf him if the mill isn't up and running by the time of the next election in 2011.

"It will mean that I've done everything possible to get the mill open. A vote for me is a vote to open the mill, however, I'm only part of one entity like I said. There is the industry, there is the union and there is the government. We'll do the best we can from the government side to make this work," said Hickie, a Prince Albert police officer named minister of corrections, public safety and policing by Premier Brad Wall.

Now there's a pile of horse pulp if I've ever seen one!!!! So as I don my rubber hip waders, let me try to grasp this;

During the election campaign, Darryl Hickie ran on a pledge of getting the Prince Albert Pulp Mill reopened. He even went so far as to use the slogan "a vote for Darryl Hickie is a vote to open the mill."

Hickie's illustrious Leader then issues the order that it will not honour the MOU, and that if Domtar wants to open they can feel free to ask us. Oh but if they want public money, then it will probably be a no but go ahead and give us a shot!!

So what are the workers and people living in Prince Alberta supposed to look forward too?

A new MLA who most certainly will do or say anything to get elected. A Government who really isn't interested in seen the mill re-open and a Christmas where Santa Wall will be putting shovels and hip waders under their trees. At least they will be prepared to shovel the line of PULP that they are being handed!!