Julie Docherty

What has happened to our country?


Even now, with all we’ve been through with the federal Conservatives, I was still shocked by this recent news. Buried deep in the pages of the government’s budget implementation bill, C-60, is a provision that effectively gives it the head seat at the CBC management table.

The clause allows cabinet to have final say on salaries, working conditions and collective bargaining positions, and obliterates the arm’s length relationship stipulated by the Broadcasting Act.

Also captured in the attempt to manage news, public discourse and information, are the Canada Council for the Arts, the International Development Research Centre and the National Arts Centre.

News, research and the expression of ideas through art are powerful catalysts for challenge and change in any society; or, to put it another way, they can be dangerous to a sitting government with unpopular ideas.

North of 60, we’ve seen the triumph of right-wing ideology, the expression of which is found in federal budgets, omnibus bills and eager-to-please territorial governments that lack the desire or courage to stand up for Northerners. The combination of these forces has given power to the dangerous notion that resource development, big corporations and privatization come before the needs of the people who live here.

Last summer when the Prime Minister took his yearly jaunt through our territories, we joined with the Union of Northern Workers, Nunavut Employees Union and Yukon Employees Union to issue open letters in the media that garnered national attention. We reminded the government that the North is more than just a resource extraction site for oil, gas, and mining companies, many with ruinous practices whose legacies will be felt far into the future.

More than 100,000 people reside here, we said, and we rely on strong programs, public services, good jobs and a healthy environment. But there has been no action. Instead, there has been only minimal support for people but maximum marshaling of public resources, tax dollars and legislative initiatives to prompt a bonanza for the business sector.

April’s Labour Market Bulletin states that youth unemployment stands at nearly 27% in Nunavut. That is scandalous.

Food, housing, poverty and lack of access to basic services are endemic to all three territories. Workers who deliver crucial public services are disappearing, as are the services we provide. Privatization looms large and so does the expectation that individuals will dig deep into their pockets if they want access to what previously existed in the public sector.

As the Conservatives try to force a dramatic reshaping of our country, our entitlements, our work and leisure lives—and our ideas about society—the labour movement will stand in its way. We are a powerful force, made even stronger by the PSAC’s campaign against cutbacks.

Every member has a vital role to play in this, and the maximum efforts of every committee and council are crucial to ensure that Canada remains a country of equality of opportunity, and of hope. Let’s not let things slide until it’s too late.

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This page contains a single entry by Julie Docherty published on June 5, 2013 8:29 AM.

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