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Jay Currie

One Damn Thing After Another


The ghost of General Strikes Past

Norman Spector takes a look at the General Strike which wasn't in this piece which runs in the Vancouver Sun and Times-Colonist.
When I flew with IWA leader Jack Munro to Kelowna, everyone in Bennett's living room knew that the blustery union leader was suing for peace to escape the clutches of his public sector brethren. He had as much leverage as the fourth witness that evening-- the premier's Old English sheepdog. Its master, Bill Bennett, was one tough guy, and he understood both power and Munro's predicament. Frankly, I felt sorry for the labour leader as he tried to eke out some measly last-minute concessions.
Spector seems to agree with my own analysis that the HEU strike and the use of retroactive legislation has underscored Gordon Campbell's personal unpopularity:
Looking back, I think Bennett over-reached because he had already decided not to run again, and was determined to pursue fundamental reform. Yet, unlike Campbell, he understood that you cannot simultaneously cut taxes and ask workers to tighten their belts. The Socreds' making way for a new leader who won the 1986 election is a precedent Liberals should consider carefully, as they contemplate Gordon Campbell's miserable personal standing in the polls.
The HEU dispute and the possibility of a General Strike suggests that Campbell has lost any sense of the limits of his power. Once that happens to a politician he or she loses the ability to actually hear what the electorate wants and, more importantly, what it will accept. Within Campbell's Cabinet I suspect there are a number of people who are toting up his current dismal popularity against his current accomplishments. At some point, and it may be quite soon, one or two prominent Cabinet resignations will signal the begining of the end.

It is possible that Campbell will be able to tough it out; but the Liberal coalition exists for the single purpose of keeping the NDP out of power. If the leader of that coalition begins to run behind his party he will have reached his best before date.