Class Tensions in Canada

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It has now been just over one year since the Conservative Party won a majority government in the last federal election, marking the first time in almost two decades that the right wing of the Canadian bourgeoisie has held free reign over the ship of state at the federal level. As we analyzed at the time,[1] a Conservative majority government was not the preferred electoral outcome for the main factions of the bourgeoisie. The Conservative Party—under the stewardship of Prime Minister Stephen Harper—had suffered a long string of political scandals that threatened to undermine the population’s illusions in Canadian democracy and further depress the enrollment of the younger generations behind electoral politics. However, we also pointed out that despite failing to produce a new ruling team, the Canadian bourgeoisie nevertheless emerged from the elections poised to enact the classic ideological division of labor in times of rising working class unrest by engendering a vocal “left in opposition” through the rise of the New Democratic Party (NDP) to official opposition status for the first time in history.

Almost as if the Canadian bourgeoisie had anticipated what was to come, Canada has been hit by a veritable wave of working class struggles and social unrest over the past year. Beginning in the summer of 2011, with tensions at Air Canada and the Canada Post strike and lockout, Canada has witnessed a series of strikes and job actions affecting a number of central industries at the national, provincial and local level. Moreover, although the Occupy Movement in Canada was much less dramatic than elsewhere, students in Québec have been engaged in a fierce and protracted struggle over the debt burdened provincial government’s plans to raise tuition fees, shutting down traffic flow through Montreal on several occasions and forcing the repressive apparatus of the Québec state to show its ugly teeth once again (see separate article on www.internationalism.org).

While the Québec student movement seems to be motivated by many of the same factors that have moved the younger generations of workers to launch similar protest movements across the world over the last several years, the development of the overall class struggle in Canada has been greatly hampered by the Canadian bourgeoisie’s skillful use of the tactic of the left in opposition, which has allowed the NDP—and the unions it is closely intertwined with—to play the role of an “alternative within the state” to the cruel austerity and blatantly anti-working class politics of the ruling Tories.

Thus, although the Conservative’s ascension to majority government status in the May 2011 federal elections was a clear set-back for the Canadian bourgeoisie’s desire to give its state a new image, it has in many ways been able to “make lemonade out of lemons,” by using the rise of the NDP to enact a policy of the “left in opposition” allowing it to control and manage a series of working class struggles that have broken out across the country over the past year. Although the Tories have not ceased their scandal prone ways, the rise of the NDP has been able to serve as a counterweight by giving all those angered by the Conservatives’ apparent disregard for “democracy” an alternative to look forward to in the next federal election.

Undoubtedly, the rise of the NDP has acted as a block on the development of the class struggle in Canada, largely trapping it behind the unions and the opposition’s aggressive verbiage against the Tories’ attacks on the “right to strike.” In a way, the cover the NDP gives to electoral democracy and “struggling through the unions” initially allowed the Conservative government to be more aggressive than it otherwise might be. They know that their rivals on the other side of the House of Commons will work to make sure workers’ struggles do not escape their control and that of their union friends.

Although Canada has certainly seen its share of electoral instability—due in large measure to the increasing pressure on the political system brought by the tendencies of social decomposition, the situation has not reached the depths of that in the United States. The Canadian bourgeoisie has been largely successful—so far—in enacting the policy of the left in opposition allowing it a much greater flexibility in enacting austerity as it attempts to protect the Canadian economy in a chaotic international environment. For example, the Harper government has recently announced a series of changes to Old Age Security, planning to raise the age of eligibility from 65 to 67. Would it have pursued such a policy without an empowered NDP opposition to capture the dissent such a move would provoke? We can’t say for certain, but it is clear that over the past year, the Canadian bourgeoisie has used the tactic of the left in opposition to pursue an overall agenda of seeking to insulate the national economy from the potential shocks emanating from a chaotic international environment—a situation that the Canadian bourgeoisie seems to expect will negatively impact its own economy in due course. Moreover, the existence of the NDP opposition has allowed it to compensate for the continuing political difficulties of the ruling Conservative Party, which has a very hard time avoiding scandal. These various scandals only become one more moment in the overall tactic of empowering the left opposition.

Nevertheless, it is unclear for how long the Canadian bourgeoisie will be able to play this game. The next federal election is a long three years away. Will the NDP be able to continue to mute working class unrest for such an extended period of time? Will the Conservative Party’s continued political clumsiness and scandal prone ways force some kind of political change that might endanger the ideological division of labor? Will the increasingly restlessness of the younger generations of workers—mainly around the question of the increasing burden of rising tuition costs—serve to radicalize the social situation in general? These remain open questions that pose an ever-present threat to the Canadian bourgeoisie and its state.

The Canada Post Strike and Lock-Out (June 2011):

Just one month after the Conservatives won their majority government, labour tensions at Canada Post broke out in a series of rotating strikes across the country. Angered by management’s intransigent approach to contract talks, concern over their pension security and deteriorating work and safety conditions, militancy had been building among the postal workers for some time, obliging the Canadian Union of Postal Workers (CUPW) to launch rotating strikes in early June of 2011. Canadian postal workers have traditionally been among the country’s most militant sectors obliging its unions to take a more radical line towards industrial action.

Among Canada Post’s contract demands were requiring workers to work an extra five years before qualifying for benefits, establishing a two tiered wage structure with new workers receiving lower pay and rejection of the union’s position on staffing levels. Canada Post claimed these moves were necessary to close a $3.2 billion dollar gap in pension funding and compensate for the decline in business resulting from increased competition from private couriers (UPS, Fedex, Purolator, etc.) and internet bill payment services.[2]

After twelve days of rotating strikes in various cities across the country, Canada Post responded by locking out all 48,000 of its unionized workers in mid-June, completely shutting down mail delivery across the country. Unable to ignore such an event, the bourgeois media jumped into full gear with an intense discussion around the “technological obsolescence” of the post office, with those further to the left expressing the need to “protect vital public services.” The media cried crocodile tears for senior citizens who wouldn’t be able to mail in their bill payments in time, while little sympathy was shown for “overpaid” postal workers whose services weren’t as vital to the national economy as they once were. “Why should taxpayers subsidize postal workers, when the same job can be accomplished by private companies for much less?”, was a frequent question put forward on the talk shows and Internet forums.

Canada Post management complained that the lockout was necessary as the rotating strikes were costing it mail volume and had caused it to lose $103 million in revenue to that point already. How locking out its workers and bringing mail delivery to a complete halt was supposed to remedy this was never made clear. However, no sooner had the lockout been announced that the Tory government began to make noise about introducing back-to-work legislation in the House of Commons—the same tact it had taken in response to the simultaneous strike of customer service agents at Air Canada (see below). Clearly, Canada Post management had federal government intervention in mind when it announced the lock-out. Its tactic was clear: lockout the workers, create a “national crisis” and wait for the federal government to intervene and end the impasse in management’s favor. And this is exactly what the federal government did, mandating the postal workers to return to work on terms less favorable to them than management’s last offer.

According to Conservative Labour Minister Lisa Raitt, the legislation was necessary to “protect Canada’s economic recovery.” This set-off a veritable campaign on the left against the back-to-work legislation, with several NDP MPs doing their best to hold-up the legislation in Parliament with an ill-fated attempt at an American style filibuster. Pundits supposedly favorable to the postal workers lamented the collapse of “Canadian democracy” and the undermining of collective bargaining. According to this view, from now on employers would have no incentive to negotiate in good faith, expecting the government to step in on their side eventually. Soon to be NDP party leader Thomas Mulcair mused the following: "It is the government itself, through a Crown corporation that caused the lockout of the employees. This same government is now turning around and criticizing a situation that it created itself.” [3]

In the end, the NDP and the CUPW proved powerless to stop the back-to-work legislation. Whatever their histrionics on the floor of the House of Commons, they could not prevent the Tory majority government from getting its way. With the legislation passed, the workers returned to their jobs on the terms mandated by the government. Mobilized behind the unions and the NDP, the postal workers had no idea of how to resist the government’s mandated settlement. The thought of further resistance likely came with fear of an even grander defeat should they attempt to keep the struggle alive. Under the union straitjacket, no thought was ever given to uniting the postal workers’ on strike with the simultaneous struggle of Air Canada workers also under threat of a government imposed back-to-work law. Under the unions, every struggle is kept in its own corner, in its own sector of the economy. The idea of uniting the working class across sectors is an anathema and thus every struggle behind the unions is doomed to defeat. Clearly, this was the fate of Canada Post workers in June 2011.

Tensions at Air Canada (Spring 2011 to April 2012):

Air Canada was the second major national concern to be hit by labour tensions over the past year. Just as the rotating strikes at Canada Post entered their second week in mind-June 2011, customer service agents at the national airline went on strike angered by the company’s insistence on pension changes that would switch them from a defined benefit to a defined contribution plan. The customer service agent strike was only the first in a series of struggles to hit Air Canada over the course of the year.

Air Canada workers’ frustration had been building since at least 2003 when the company sought bankruptcy protection under which many of the various unions representing its employees agreed to a series of concessions.  In order to “keep the company in business” unions agreed to wage cuts, changes to work rules and a number of layoffs. Customer service agents were particularly hard hit as their union agreed to a 10 percent wage cut, giving up one week of vacation, paid lunch breaks and sick days. In both 2004 and 2005 the union agreed to additional 2.5 percent wage cuts. Although they received modest increases from 2006 to 2008, by 2009 Air Canada was already threatening further restructuring that meant a wage freeze for 2009 and 2010.[4]  The company’s plans to launch a new “low cost” airline appear to be the straw that broke the camel’s back for many workers, who see this plan as a way to drive down their own wages and benefits.

On June 14th, 2011—unable to reach an agreement with management and with the pension issue a key sticking point—some 3800 Air Canada customer service agents walked off the job. In response, the Harper Government did not wait long to start issuing threats of back to work legislation. Citing the need to “protect Canada’s fragile economic recovery,” Labour Minister Raitt indicated that although she would give the two parties time to reach an agreement, she would not stand idly by while flights were disrupted across the country. Faced with the threat of back to work legislation, the Canadian Auto Workers’ Union (CAW)—the union that represents customer service agents—quickly ended the strike after a mere three days by agreeing to binding arbitration on the most contentious issues. Referring to the company’s plan to start new hires on a defined contribution retirement plan, all CAW President Ken Lewenza could say after apologizing to new employees was, “We could not settle this issue in collective bargaining.”[5] How about attempting to settle issue by linking up the struggle with the Canada Post workers on strike at the same time? Of course, such things never occur to union bureaucrats, except as something that must be avoided at all costs!

However, the end of the customer service agent strike was far from the beginning of labour peace at Air Canada. In October, Air Canada flight attendants rejected a tentative deal with the company for the second time in three months, posing the threat of another strike that could disrupt air travel across the country. Despite what Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) negotiators called a “breakthrough” in negotiations on the contentious issue of work rules involving the calculation of paid time during stopovers, flight attendants were in no mood for an agreement. The sentiment in favor of a strike was high, forcing a CUPE official to concede, “The rejection of this second tentative agreement shows how frustrated the membership is with the company, after years and years of concessions.” [6]

Nevertheless, the Harper government had even less inclination to allow a strike to go forward this time around, signaling that it would introduce back-to-work legislation immediately. As it turned out, Labour Minister Raitt didn’t even wait for the House of Commons to debate any legislation, unilaterally referring the dispute to the Canadian Industrial Relations Board for arbitration—a move that made any strike by flight attendants illegal. As academics lamented the Tories’ attack on collective bargaining—something supposedly integral to the healthy functioning of a “democratic society”—CUPE officials stressed to the membership that any strike action would be illegal. In a memo to its over 6,800 members, CUPE wrote, “Our strike is suspended indefinitely. Therefore, the union advises you that you cannot strike.”  However, just to make sure it still held the workers’ confidence, CUPE negotiators lashed out at the Harper Government. In a separate memo it wrote, “Let’s call a spade a spade. This government is not your friend. It is trying to take away your right to strike and it will use whatever tools and tricks it can.” [7]

By now the pattern had been set, workers frustrated by years of concessions respond to stalled contract negotiations or inadequate tentative agreements with a strike posture, management digs in, the federal government threatens intervention, the union caves in all the while crying foul about the government’s attacks on “democratic rights of collective bargaining.” The idea that workers might go on strike anyway—regardless of what the government and unions do, regardless of the strike’s legality—was not acknowledged by the union, the leftist politicians, the academics and certainly not by the bourgeois media.

Moreover, these forces never countenanced the notion that workers in one sector or industry might join forces with those in another under similar threats of austerity. In the case of the Air Canada flight attendants, this could have meant joining up with airport security screeners, who simultaneously to their own strike, had launched a coordinated work slow down at Toronto’s Pearson Airport, causing massive travel delays for three days in early October. Surely, someone in the union hierarchy must have noticed the coincidental timing of these events? All the more evidence that the union’s job is not to spread the struggle, but to keep workers isolated in their own sectoral bunkers and behind the veil of bourgeois legalism.

Of course, in some instances in some countries, it is possible the unions might call for a “general strike.” As had been the case in Europe recently, it is possible that faced with a national mood of resistance to austerity, the unions and left parties might see the need to draw workers out on the streets across industries. But this is only in order to better control them and demoralize them by leading the struggle into nothing beyond symbolism, while the austerity attacks keep raining down. However, over the past year, the Canadian unions have avoided such a tactic, preferring to bury simultaneous struggles in their own sectoral dead-ends.

The next time workers at Air Canada went on strike tensions could not be contained so easily with the threat of government intervention. In late March 2012, Air Canada ground crew launched a wildcat strike at Toronto’s Pearson Airport. Although lasting only 12 hours on a Friday morning, the wildcat caused 84 flight cancellations and up to 80 flight delays. Unrest quickly spread to airports in Montreal, Québec City and Vancouver. The wildcat by 150 ground crew workers at Pearson was a response to Air Canada’s decision to suspend three workers who had allegedly heckled Labour Minister Raitt as she walked through the airport the day before. Raitt’s press secretary reported that the Minister had been followed through the airport and “harassed” by workers. In response to the “illegal strike,” Air Canada fired 37 workers who had walked off the job. An independent arbitrator—already working on contract issues between Air Canada and its machinists and pilots at the bequest of Raitt after the House of Commons had passed legislation barring strikes and lock-outs—issued an injunction ordering the strikers back to work. [8]

Nevertheless, the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers (IAMAW) tried to claim victory by stating that they only agreed to end the “job action” after receiving assurances from Air Canada that nobody would lose their job and all fired workers would be reinstated. Still, IAMAW spokesperson Bill Trbovich was forced to admit that his union might not have total control over the striking workers stating, “We want everyone to go back to work. Whether they will or not remains to be seen.”[9] For her part, Raitt didn’t miss the opportunity to remind workers that they could be punished for illegal job actions by a fine of up to $1000 a day.

In response to the wildcat strike, the media went into full attack mode, stoking the public’s anger at Air Canada and its workers. The call to end all government subsidies to Air Canada and to fly private competitors instead dominated the talk shows and blogs. A campaign was under way to make sure the public had had enough of labour stoppages at Canada’s national airline. However, the bourgeois left was also vocal with Newfoundland and Labrador MHA Gerry Rogers—whose flight has been delayed on the tarmac at Pearson—publicly supporting the workers. Rogers stated, “We can’t continue to have government interfering in these ways and breaking the backs of unions. This is about workers’ rights and I totally support this. If I have to wait in this airport for 10 hours for my luggage, so be it.” [10] Industrial Relations Professor C.B. Smith of Queen’s University (a former employee relations director at Air Canada) was more direct in his criticism of the Harper Government’s approach to labour relations, stating: “There’s a huge trust that traditionally exists between employers and employees and when that trust is broken, this is one of the potential outcomes (…) This is the part that minister Raitt doesn’t understand. And this is the part the Harper government doesn’t understand, is that you can superficially get this off the table and you sweep it way, but there are some issues that have to be dealt with. And these employees are not going to accept how this has been dealt with.”[11]

Clearly, a sense is beginning to emerge in some quarters of the Canadian ruling class that the Harper government may be overplaying is hand. While its direct attack on collective bargaining may have initially had the effect of strengthening the image of the bourgeois left, in particular the NDP and the unions, the federal government may be going to the well too often, provoking the threat of a working class response outside of the ability of the unions to control. Although only lasting hours, the wildcat strike by Air Canada ground crews is clear mounting evidence of a developing will to resist and a growing sense of alienation from the structures put in place to control working class struggle.

The example set by Air Canada’s ground crew was quickly followed by its pilots, when they launched what the media termed an “illegal strike” in mid-April. With their contract dispute with the airline already subject to a parliamentary order establishing binding arbitration (the same order that applied to ground crew) preventing any strikes or lock-outs, pilots launched a Friday “sick-out” that forced the cancellation of some 75 flights across the country, with delays extending into the weekend. Air Canada quickly won an order from the arbitrator forcing the pilots back to work, but the sense of shear frustration among the pilots brought them close to a confrontation with their own union. Air Canada Pilots Association (ACPA) President Paul Strachan was forced to admit the growing sense of anger gripping his membership when he stated, “We all need to be very cognizant of the real risk that, at some point, the pilots will feel so beaten down and so helpless that they’re going to lash back and not even this organization will be able to control the outcome of events.” [12]

The best the ACPA could do was ensure its members it was fighting the law mandating binding arbitration in the courts, but until such time as they prevailed through legal channels no strike was possible. In a memo to members, the ACPA stated, “It is our duty to advise all pilots that the ACPA’s right to strike and Air Canada’s right to lock-out it employees are suspended until a new collective agreement takes effect. (…) Until the law is struck down, we must all comply with it.” Bourgeois legalism triumphs again! According to the union, no strike can take place until permission is granted from the state! Who would have thought that a “right” so fundamental as the right to bargain over the price you receive for your labour time could be suspended? What type of democracy is this? One in which the “right to strike” is returned only after an agreement has been reached! The Harper government may have been taking a heavy hand with the working class, but the unions were clearly the ones enforcing the no strike laws on the shop floor level.

Over the last year, Air Canada has been a focal point for labour tensions across the country.[13] For the most part these have remained within the union fold, as workers have succumbed to the pressure from their unions to obey the various no strike laws passed by the House of Commons. However, a distinct possibility remains that the Harper government may be overplaying its hand. The continued use of back-to-work legislation and binding arbitration may have initially worked to shore up the image of the unions and give legitimacy to the NDP. However, as the examples of the Air Canada ground crew workers and pilots showed, combativeness has been building within the working-class threatening to escape union control. While for now these instances have been contained, the threat of a revived working class militancy that challenges the framework of the unions and bourgeois legalism cannot be ruled out in the period ahead.

Will the Harper government recognize that its methods may be producing an undesired radicalization and start to back off? Or have the Tories, like their Republican counterparts in the United States, gone over to a hardcore ideological drive to smash the unions—the best buffer the bourgeoisie has against the class struggle? This is difficult to determine at this point. But as the examples at Air Canada show, the Canadian bourgeoisie has still been able to reap the benefits of a functioning and credible union apparatus over the past year.

Other Struggles:

While the strikes at Canada Post and Air Canada have been the most notable events on the national level, a number of others struggles have taken place over the past year showing that the working-class in Canada has developed a certain combativeness that the unions have been obliged to control by agreeing to strike action. While we cannot discuss every one of these strikes in detail, some of the more important ones were:

  • A fierce contract dispute between British Columbia teachers and the Liberal party provincial government that saw teachers launch a “limited job action” in September 2011 wherein they refused to write report cards, attend staff meetings, supervise extracurricular activity, communicate with principals or perform administrative work. Proving that its not just Tories who can pass back-to-work legislation, the Liberal provincial government passed the now infamous Bill 22 in March 2012—that ordered a six month cooling off period and which made any strike action by teachers illegal on pain of a $475 a day fine for any teacher participating in job action.

The passing of Bill 22 sparked a campaign of resistance among teachers that while it remained mostly within union boundaries, included talk of a possible wildcat strike and led to increasing tensions within the bureaucracy of the British Columbia Teachers’ Federation (BCTF).

  • An intense weeks long strike by faculty at Brandon University in Manitoba, marking the second time in four years that faculty at the university were on strike. Faculty went out in October and did not return to work until late November virtually cancelling the fall semester at the university. This strike was marked by a divisive ideological campaign by the university administration and the media to pit students who were effectively locked out of classes against the striking faculty. 

The importance of this strike—albeit at small university on the prairies—should not be underestimated. With the threat of student unrest spreading out from Québec, the Canadian bourgeoisie must be fearful of any possible unification of student struggles with those of faculty members.

  • A series of strikes and threatened job actions by workers on a number of commuter bus lines in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA) that snarled commutes in Canada’s largest metropolitan area.

For the most part, these various actions remained under the union fold, but the fact that so many contract disputes have resulted in strikes or threatened job actions is testament to the growing combativity within the working class after years of talk about the fragility of “Canada’s economic recovery” or the need to “protect the recovery,” which dampened the working class’s response to the recession that begin in 2008. While workers have generally struggled to escape the grasp of the unions and have had little success linking up with other protest movements, such as the Québec student movement or the (albeit subdued) expressions of the Occupy Movement in Canada, there is a growing sense among the workers that strikes and other job actions are necessary to advance their interests in a political climate dominated by an intransigent state that has dropped any pretense of social neutrality and now appears to be in full league with management and administration.

While for now unions have been able to contain the struggle by making sure the various sectors and bargaining units struggle separately and never unite their efforts (thereby also leading to the workers usually losing the battle for public opinion), revolutionaries need to continue to monitor the situation in Canada closely for signs of further radicalization. The possibility that the Tories could actually screw up and radicalize the workers’ struggle by making the unions look impotent in the face of back-to-work legislation is real.

The Class Struggle and the Canadian Political Situation:

Clearly, the Canadian state has emerged from the federal elections of May 2011 with an unexpected strength in the face of the class struggle. Although the Harper Government was re-elected with a majority, the elections produced an NDP official opposition that has allowed the Canadian state to play the card of the left in opposition with a good deal of success over the past year.

Each time a particularly threatening struggle arose, the Tory government was able to suppress it with draconian back-to-work legislation, while the NDP and the unions cried fowl from the left, convincing the workers that they had a friend in the House of Commons. As their argument went, “If the anti-working class Harper government was in power today, perhaps this wouldn’t be the case in a few years when workers could rally around the NDP and elect a truly worker friendly government if they choose.”

Every scandal involving the Conservative government—from the robo call scandal to the accusations of misleading parliament over the true costs of F-35 fighter jets and announcing plans to raise the age of eligibility for old age pensions in Davos, Switzerland—has for now only played into the overall political tactic of the left in opposition.

However, as the wildcat strikes at Air Canada have shown, the possibility remains that the Tories may have overplayed their hand. Their consistent use of back-to-work legislation has demonstrated a complete disregard of the culture of collective bargaining just as bad as anything enacted by Governor Scott Walker in Wisconsin, USA. Whether or not this reflects a similar ideological decay of the Conservative party under the weight of its erstwhile Reform Party/Alberta faction or whether it is a simple political miscalculation is difficult to judge at the moment.  What is clear is that despite being able to salvage the result of the 2011 federal election, the danger of allowing the Conservative Party to remain in power beyond the current term is something that the main factions of the Canadian ruling class must be wrestling with at the moment. This likely factored into the selection of Montreal MP Thomas Mulcair to follow the popular Jack Layton as NDP Leader in March 2012.  The popular and charismatic Layton, who had reaped praise for leading his party to official opposition status in the May 2011 elections, announced just a short time later that he was suffering from another bout of cancer that finally took his life in August. While this has been a clear set-back for the NDP; they have reacted to it by selecting Mulcair as party leader, someone who they hope can shore up their support in Québec and attract enough votes in the rest of Canada and make a future election competitive.

For the working class, the lessons of the past year are clear. While it is true that the Harper Government has been particularly aggressive in its approach to the class struggle, this does not mean that the NDP or any other bourgeois party is our friend. Moreover, the past year has shown us that struggling behind the unions always leads to defeat. We must pick-up where the Air Canada workers left off and begin to take our struggles outside of the union straitjacket. It is only when we take struggles into our own hands and unite across sector and bargaining unit that we have a chance to resist capitalism’s attacks. Moreover, it is also true that in today’s climate we must also look to unite our struggles with other protest movements that are resisting the effects of the economic crisis on the conditions of life, such as the resistance by Québec students to tuition increases and the growing burden of student debt. We are all being made to pay for the bourgeoisie’s self-inflicted crisis, but it is only our own autonomous struggles that can finally put an end to the politics of austerity once and for all.

Henk 23/05/12



[1] See our articles, “The Canadian Bourgeoisie Attempts to Revive its Democratic Mystification Once Again” in Internationalism #158 at http://en.internationalism.org/inter/158/canada-elections and “Canadian Elections: Behind the Talk of the ‘Historic Election’ the Image of the State Remains Fragile” in Internationalism #159 at http://en.internationalism.org/inter/159/canadian-election

[2] See Ian Austen “Most Mail Delivery Halts in Canada After Strikes” at http://www.nytimes.com/2011/06/16/business/global/16postal.html?_r=1 (Of course, it is interesting that the title of this article blames the “strikes” for the halt in mail delivery, rather than management’s lock-out!

[5] Ian Austen, “Service Agents End Strike at Air Canada” at www.nytimes.com/2011/06/17/business/global/17air.html

[7] ibid.

[8] CBC “Air Canada strike effects felt into weekend: Pearson ground crews in Toronto held wildcat strike that disrupted thousands” at http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/story/2012/03/23/air-canada-wildcat.html

[9] National Post Staff “Air Canada ground crew sent back to work after wildcat strike causes flight chaos.” at http://www.google.com/search?q=Air+Canada+crews+sent+back+to+work&ie=utf-8&oe=utf-8&aq=t&rls=org.mozilla:en-US:unofficial&client=firefox-a

[10] CBC (Op. Cit.)

[11] National Post Staff. (Op. Cit.)

[12] Thomson-Reuters “Update 5-Air Canada back to normal Sat. after pilots strike.“ http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/04/14/aircanada-pilots-idUSL2E8FD36K20120414

[13] Of course, an important opportunity has been missed to link the struggle at Air Canada up with the workers at American airlines themselves facing severe cutbacks and layoffs due to that company’s bankruptcy. The difficulty in linking the struggles of workers at these two airlines is enhanced by the fact that there is generally a news blackout of anything happening in Canada in the United States.