Dion's support of strikebreaking turned around a caucus that, until he became leader, was set to pass the Bill. Indeed, the vote in the House of Commons last October was strongly supportive. But furious lobbying by corporations had its obvious effect. The final vote followed a decision by the Speaker that amendments to permit essential services in case of a strike were out of order (a suspect ruling, praised by the corporate sector, which provided the rationale for the Liberal flip-flop).
The essential services issue was, of course, a smokescreen. No such amendments were needed, because legislation covering essential services already exists in Section 87.4 of the Canada Labour Code:
87.4 (1) During a strike or lockout not prohibited by this Part, the employer, the trade union and the employees in the bargaining unit must continue the supply of services, operation of facilities or production of goods to the extent necessary to prevent an immediate and serious danger to the safety or health of the public.Anti-scab legislation has been in effect in both BC and Quebec for many years, with none of the dire consequences that business lobbyists in Ottawa were claiming would result from the passage of C-257. Two right-wing premiers, Jean Charest and Gordon Campbell, have made no moves to repeal the legislation, and have stayed out of the public debate.
Dion, caving in to the Big Business sector, has now earned his anti-labour stripes. Will it be enough to attract the support of the corporate media in the upcoming election?