Preparing for the Budget

My current budget priority is to save for a pony. Ottawa Center MP Paul Dewar hopes that next week’s federal budget, which will include a 34 million dollar deficit, will involve less horse manure. From 10am to 2pm this Saturday, January 24th, Dewar is organizing a Community Dialogue on Economic Priorities at the Bronson Center (211 Bronson Ave), that will touch on a number of topics, including infrastructure and transit, housing, income security, environment and energy, supporting individuals and families, and ponies…  OK, maybe not ponies, but a girl can dream.

I Support the Bus Drivers

January 7, 2009

Opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not reflect an official position of apt613.

I live downtown. I live downtown because I don’t want, and typically don’t need, a car. I (foolishly) don’t work downtown; I work in Ottawa South. Fortunately I’m in good health and I can get to work in just under an hour. That’s just less than two hours of walking a day. I wish I’d canceled my gym membership.

I whine a lot about my walk to and from work but I stand by the bus drivers. I’m not going to get into what the bus drivers want and what the city wants to take away; to me that’s mostly noise and should stay behind closed doors.

What I really find concerning about the strike is the way it’s being handled and the attitudes of Ottawans.
The city, it seems, never seriously went to the bargaining table. It appears to be their sole goal to extend this strike as long as possible.

The majority of citizens, according to a city poll, believe it is important that the city stick to their guns. To this reader, they’re saying they want to see the city break the union. In a city full of unionized employees it boggles my mind.

I keep hearing people say that this isn’t the time for striking. That those lazy bus drivers should be happy they have jobs. I can’t help thinking: It’s never a good time for transit to strike and Ottawa has a stable job market, so how does this add up?

Gwyn Morgan cheerily concluded in his Monday column for the Globe and Mail:
But crises create opportunity: In this case, the long overdue opportunity for governments and the general public to stand up to union demands, even when it means enduring strikes and hiring unemployed replacement workers glad just to have a job.

We don’t need unions in good times. In good times employers compete for employees. In bad times, if you’re lucky, your union makes sure that there is a discussion and a compromise is reached. Gwyn Morgan and I agree that this crisis has created opportunity here I just hope that good employers don’t take it.

The most shocking thing about this strike has been the attitude of my fellow commuters. They have turned on the bus drivers as if the drivers have personally decided to betray every single one of them. I fear for the safety of the bus drivers on their return and I’m considering bringing them cookies.

The drama of the Ottawa Transit Strike is always continuing. Today the labour board is looking for stories of people hurt by the strike in order to make transit an essential service. On one hand this is wrong as it removes the right of the bus drivers to strike, but it forces the city to the table and the service often gets a better deal than otherwise possible.

Check out the Union website and the city website for more drama.