Air Canada strike versus CP Rail strike: back to work for CP Rail.

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The Article

The government’s decision to end Air Canada labor disputes through legislation were wrong. Air Canada is not state-owned any longer, thank God, nor is it a government-mandated monopoly, like the state-owned Canada Post is. And it’s not like the state-owned and state-protected and taxpayer-funded media, the dreadful CBC.

And Air Canada’s competitors like Westjet should be able to gain every advantage from the stupidity of Air Canada’s executives and its workers and the ridiculous, unsustainable labor contracts those parties both agreed to over the years. Goodness knows both Air Canada and its 600 labor unions have been given every advantage over the years to keep them going, much of it at taxpayer risk or expense.

Much as GM and Chrysler should have been allowed to go bankrupt, re-organize, and learn from their mistakes without big brother’s meddling (and Ford, etc., gain a competitive edge from GM and Chrysler and their unions’ stupidity), Air Canada and its workers should suffer from their own idiocy too. Yes some customers will also suffer. That’s too bad. In some rare cases, a tragedy. Maybe the parties responsible will learn from the customer outrage and loss of future business to Westjet and others, which would certainly happen if only it were allowed to happen. Such strikes might then become more and more rare as business like Air Canada and its unions learn the facts of life. As it is, nobody will learn anything. At least nothing positive.

They certainly won’t learn anything if big brother always steps in to “save the day.” In fact, far from “saving” anything, they’re wrecking everything. As usual. Anytime the government meddles in the free market, it wrecks the free market, by definition. And nothing has proven to work better than the free market, free of government intervention and its incessant engineering and meddling.

The CP Rail strike is a bit of a different beast. Rail lines cannot simply be taken over by a competitor, at least not quickly enough, the way competing car companies or competing airlines can instantly move in where striking car companies or airlines falter. Our country and every country relies on its rail lines for our economy and basic necessities of life. In every country, rail lines occupy a special sort of “monopoly” in their national landscapes, simply by virtue of logistics and geography and property rights and so on. The ports are similar in this regard. They are a special class of national infrastructure that cannot be replaced or duplicated.

And as a nation we obviously won’t tolerate building additional competing rail lines across the country, at this late stage in Canada’s build-out. That train has left the station (yay… I found a spot for that metaphor!). CP Rail and the other rail companies and their massive labor unions control the national rail lines, and therefore they all have an inherent responsibility to ensure their use is undeterred, and the free flow of rail traffic is allowed to occur.

So the parties should be forced to get back to work, or be forced to allow the free-flow of goods across the rail lines from its North American competitors. I don’t care what happens between them contract-wise. They are or should be the only victims of their own stupidity.


Joel Johannesen
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