Patriotism is supporting your country all the time, and your government when it deserves it. - Mark Twain
I was intrigued recently to see the Alberta Government table Bill 45, a law that will make it illegal for public service unions to discuss or plan strikes or even to suggest that one may be required or imminent.
Now in some ways the Government’s intentions are warranted, especially after illegal strikes such as the Alberta jail guard strike last year.
But is banning the mere mention of a strike an acceptable part of what we consider freedom of expression, something that we in the Western world are always trumpeting as that which sets us apart from other cultures?
Consider these excerpts from the Bill.
4(4) No person shall counsel a person to contravene subsection (1) or (2) or impede or prevent a person from refusing to contravene subsection (1) or (2).
18(1)(d) in the case of a person to whom or an organization to which none of clauses (a), (b) or (c) applies, to a fine of $500 for each day or partial day on which the offence occurs or continues.
Now consider this definition of providing counsel:
“Describes a person who, while not actually performing a criminal act, induced its performance or contributed to it.”
This appears to me to be a potentially perfect storm of legal complexity should anyone (MLA, reporter, person-at-large, etc.) make a broad statement regarding a strike which is then followed by an illegal strike itself. If the person suggesting the strike has sufficient public “clout”, could that person be held liable for the event?
Maybe I’m seeing too much in this legislation. Perhaps it is merely an intentional make-work project for all of those underemployed Charter lawyers who haven’t had something really complicated to chew on lately.
In the meantime, between now and the inevitable Supreme Court challenge, it is likely that the bill will pass and the word strike will be almost verboten.
If this happens, maybe people will substitute another code word in their communication in order to evade prosecution.
Let’s try it out using the word “sex” for fun.
If we could see over people’s shoulders as they write various emails, the emails might contain the following lines:
I’m so unhappy with things that I think that sex is the only way out.
I’ve sampled the membership and they indicate that they are ready for sex at any time.
Isn’t it awfully cold outside for all of us to participate in sex?
It is difficult to be productive when I need to consider sex every 3-4 years.
What is the current rate of sex pay?
So if our sex is illegal, can we be charged with anything else?
I support my brothers and sisters in their need for sex and will provide any help they need.
<<In an email from an innocent intern>> Do you mean to tell me that I have misunderstood all of your emails and that the book I recommended, “99 Recommended Sex Positions”, is not a book on negotiation strategy?
<<In an unrelated presentation, translated accidentally in a “global search and replace” operation>> It’s time to sex while the iron is hot.
I’m just being silly.
Or am I?
When parties are at odds, attempting to find common ground will build a stronger foundation for the future of everyone in the relationship and for other parties directly affected by the relationship.
For one side to automatically suppress the rights of others unilaterally because of an occasional bad event is not strategically sound, collaboratively sound, politically sound or possibly, depending on what the under-utilized Charter lawyers come up with, legally sound.
For those in politics, intelligence in the areas of strategy, collaboration, politics and legalities are necessary to create a sound future for everyone. In addition, for those in politics, unions need not be their best friend but one doesn’t want them as an enemy either.
Otherwise, they may not be in politics for long when people perceive that they are just being screwed (with).
In service and servanthood,