Being in the opposition is not easy, I know. Between a rock and a hard place we are often caught in the wrong role and in danger of sounding whiny. However, one should maintain a certain level of responsibility and behave like someone who might find themselves in authority.
What are we to make of the opposition parties who have been circling the places where elected officials are demonstrating these weeks to encourage the strikers? The striking employees will say they support the improvement of public works.
But there is a very fine line between encouraging strikers and encouraging a strike. Is it decent for an opposition MP to support a strike when schools are closed and surgeries postponed? I’m tempted to say no. Even worse for a leader.
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I make an exception for Québec solidaire, a staunch left-wing party that has never governed and is never going to. His pro-unionism was known and publicized.
Fence lines such as eucalyptus forests for koalas are natural habitats for Quebec hardy enthusiasts. If one day a QS government comes to negotiate with civil servants, public sector unions will dream a nightmare.
But what can we say to the liberals who negotiate deals over and over again and always negotiate hard? Wisely, they sent popular MP Marwa Riski to meet the strikers. It seems to have been well received.
But seriously, just a few years ago, the same unions were talking about the Liberal government’s carnage in schools. Thrifty! How can the Quebec Liberal Party play political games to the point of going on picket lines today and asking the government to open the purse strings? And do it without laughing.
In the case of the Parti Québécois, the leader and representatives were sufficiently strong to support the strikers. I even saw new member of parliament Pascal Paradis speak at a public front demonstration. “Don’t give up. We are still with you!” Doesn’t this directly encourage the strike?
The MP could have included in his speech that the last time such a strike took place, his party ruled that schools should reopen after three weeks. He could have explained that his party’s founding leader had passed one of the tougher special laws to reinstate teachers.
A strike is legal, but should be used as a last, but very last resort. Opposition parties can encourage both sides to negotiate. She can publicly blame the government for its shortcomings or mistakes in negotiations. CAQ does not deserve congratulations for its strategy.
But encourage a strike? not that.
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