The Prince Arthur Herald

PSAC, unions and political neutrality

This week, public servants at the Canada Revenue Agency wore “Stephen Harper hates me” buttons to work. They were asked by managers to remove their buttons and afterwards filed grievances through their union, the Public Service Alliance of Canada (PSAC). It is understandable why public servants are speaking out. The cuts in the federal budget rammed through the House of Commons by Harper reduce the size of the public service. There is considerable mention of “consolidation of services,” “restructur[ing] operations,” “achiev[ing] savings,” and “modernizing services.”[i] According to PSAC, there are 16,873 members as of June 27th who have been issued with “Work Force Adjustment Notices,” a nice way of telling an employee that “his or her services will no longer be required.”[ii]

PSAC grieves under s.5 of the Public Service Relations Act: “Every employee is free to join the employee organization of his or her choice and to participate in its lawful activities.” Legally, this argument likely would not hold up. S. 7, which PSAC has conveniently not mentioned, reserves the right for employers to “assign duties and to classify positions and persons. This section is acknowledged by another public service union, the Professional Institute of the Public Service of Canada (part of PSAC) as giving management “the exclusive right to determine the organizational structure, assign duties, and classify positions.”[iii]

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The Prince Arthur Herald

Brigette DePape: A political stunt pays off big

Maclean’s Magazine recently conducted an interview with Brigette DePape, the former Senate page who held up a “Stop Harper” sign during the Throne Speech.[1] It seems that this act of civil disobedience has granted her immense benefits: she says that it has given her a “chance to meet with other people,” including with the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives. In another interview with the CBC, she said she received job offers from Michael Moore (who featured her on his webpage), the Council of Canadians, the Public Service Alliance of Canada and an unnamed journalistic organization.[2]

It is guaranteed that, without this act of protest, she would not have become such a coveted media interest. But at what cost did this come to Canada and its political institutions? Working as a page requires one to remain neutral in the course of the job and to serve Parliament; one must overcome partisan preferences and serve the country faithfully. Ms. DePape did not do this; she brought the institution of Parliament into disrepute. And for this, she has been rewarded with media attention and job offers.

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