THUNDER BAY – POLITICS – In spite of the fact that parliament isn’t sitting it was still a busy week locally, nationally, and internationally.
This past week approximately 900 members of Unifor local 1075 at the Bombardier plant went on strike in Thunder Bay. In a press release, Unifor National President Jerry Diaz said that the strike was a result of the company seeking wage and pension concessions even while there are $3.7 billion worth of orders under contract to the company. It’s hard for me to rationalize how a Canadian company that is obviously succeeding in a competitive international market can put those contracts at risk by seeking concessions from their own highly skilled workers while counting the cash their skills helped generate.
Since I have always felt that Bombardier is an ethical and responsible company I fully expect that they will respect the right of their workers to collective bargaining, negotiate in good faith, and avoid bringing in scab labour to undermine their permanent full-time employees whose efficient and high quality work has helped the company secure those billions in new contracts. In case you were wondering I stand firmly with the workers of Unifor 1075 and on the side of fair wages and secure pensions, but I do hope that this strike is a short one that ends with a mutual agreement between the two sides.
In Ottawa there was also big news related the ongoing Senate Scandal and the PMO-Duffy affair. This past Thursday the first charges were laid by the RCMP. While many who have followed the Senate Scandal were expecting charges to eventually be laid against Mr. Duffy few were prepared for the RCMP announcement that they were in fact laying 31 charges against the disgraced Conservative Party Senator who was appointed by Prime Minister Stephen Harper in 2008.
The charges laid against Duffy are both severe and wide ranging. One count each of fraud and breach of trust related to his residency expenses, nine counts of fraud and nine counts of breach of trust for expenses unrelated to Senate business, four counts of fraud and four counts of breach of trust related to the awarding of consulting contracts, one count each of bribery, frauds on the government and breach of trust related to the $90,000 payment Duffy received from Wright. As bad as it is for Duffy he will likely be joined by even more Conservative Senators appointed by Stephen Harper as the Auditor General conducts his investigation into the expenses and activities of all Senators who were never elected, are accountable to no one except the Liberal or Conservative parties, and who seemingly do little but engage in partisan fundraising and duplicate the work of duly elected MPs in the House of Commons. Stay tuned on this one folks.
Last but certainly not least there was a sharp increase in violence between Israel and the Hamas government in the Gaza Strip as Israeli ground forces were deployed into this trip this week. The origins of the latest round of violence began with the kidnapping and murder of three Israeli teens, which Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said was orchestrated and carried out by Hamas, the terrorist organization that governs the Gaza Strip. Israeli forces then conducted a large scale operation in the West Bank and arrested up to 300 members of Hamas. Shortly thereafter Hamas began to launch missiles into Israel striking a paint factory among other targets. In response to Hamas’ rocket barrage Israel began to launch air strikes against military targets on July 1. On July 2 Jewish extremists also retaliated for the murders by kidnapping and murdering a Palestinian teenager. From here the conflict escalated with more rocket attacks from Hamas, and more air raids from Israel. This week Israel launched a ground assault in Gaza and, regrettably, the conflict seems to be entering a new tragic phase of combat. Will there ever be peace for the people of Israel and a state for the Palestinian people? I don’t know but I certainly hope so. This bloodshed is tragic and the loss of innocent lives on both sides of the conflict is heartbreaking.
What a week.
John Rafferty MP
Thunder Bay Rainy River