Brad Wall has been Premier of Saskatchewan for six years and he remains hugely popular. A recent poll said he is in fact the most popular premier in Canada. That’s rather remarkable when you consider that most provincial leaders manage to stumble on something by the time they’re halfway through their second term.
Saskatchewan continues to enjoy tremendous good fortune from natural resources, and the future is bright. But organized labour is one group that are not among Wall’s admirers. Labour has traditionally been allied with the NDP in Saskatchewan, and Wall has not even pretended to make friends with labour.
Larry Hubich is President of the Saskatchewan Federation of Labour. Larry and Brad have never had one face to face conversation in the six years that the Saskatchewan Party has been in government. Now the government and the SFL will get to square off in the Supreme Court of Canada.
At issue are two bills which Wall and company passed in their first term. One specifies the public sector workers who are prohibited from striking to protect the public. The other bill requires secret ballots before unions can be certified as a collective bargaining agent.
The Labour Federation has been fighting both laws ever since they were proclaimed. They lost in the lower courts in Saskatchewan, but they won when they took the matter to the International Labour Organization, a United Nations agency.
It’s anyone’s guess as to what might happen at the Supreme Court, but it’s a sad commentary that lawyers have to spend so much time and energy on matters that should be resolved in a more reasonable way.
The Saskatchewan situation is not unique unfortunately. In many provinces, as well as in Ottawa, it seems far too easy for majority governments to say It’s our way, or the highway.
I’m Roger Currie