The decision by the federal government to table back-to-work legislation, and end a strike by CP Rail, is either good news or bad news, depending on your perspective.
If you're involved in an industry that has been hampered by the strike – a description that fits many of our readers – you're likely happy that commodities will be transported to their destinations again. The price of oil will hopefully return to levels seen before the strike, and the financial outlook will be bolstered.
If you're a striking CP Rail employee, or if you're a staunch union supporter, and you believe that the right to strike is essential, particularly when it comes to collective bargaining, you'll sharply criticize the government's decision. The workers' right to strike supersedes the needs of customers.
There are some professions that could never go on strike. If you're a police officer, or if you're involved with protective services or law enforcement of any kind, you have forfeited any hopes of a strike. Physicians and many in the health sector shouldn't be allowed to strike, either. They're too important to the day-to-day lives and health of Canadians.
In the last 12 months, it seems that workers who play an integral role in the transportation of goods and commodities have been given that essential service designation, regardless of whether they want it. Canada Post employees were sent back to work after a two-week strike last year. The government intervened in Air Canada's work disruption. Now they're meddling in CP Rail's dispute.
And their actions make sense from an economic perspective. This strike has been detrimental for the economy, and for those who rely on CP Rail. Oil companies, farmers and many others have suffered during the walk-out. The federal government estimates that the strike costs Canada over half a billion dollars each week. Thumbs up for back to work legislation, right?
Of course, there is one more perspective on the strike: that of the Estevan resident who loathes sitting behind trains, especially the ones that stop in the middle of a crossing during the seemingly worst possible times, creating long traffic line-ups in an increasingly busy city.
I didn't miss the trains during the strike. Our office is yards away from the south Kensington Avenue railway crossing, so I certainly didn't miss the noise of a train's whistle and the train rumbling by my office.
Does this mean that CP Rail will have to play catch-up, with an increase in the number of trains blocking railway crossings, due to the number of trains that have been sitting idle since the strike began on May 23?
Perhaps back-to-work legislation for CP Rail employees isn't such a good idea.