Ontario’s Premier Dalton McGuinty is learning a lesson about the nature of friendship when it comes to being pals with organized labour: the good relations only last as long as the goodies are flowing labour’s way. Try to interfere with that steady accumulation of benefits, and the “friendship” ends, pronto. In fact, the organizations with which you thought you were on good terms will quickly redefine you as an enemy of the working class, and do all they can to defeat you.
It’s the same lesson Toronto’s union friendly former mayor, David Miller, learned. Mr. Miller spent seven years doing all he could to accommodate the city’s unionized employees. No concession was too great for the mayor, who declared publicly that the city had an obligation to ensure its employees could live and work comfortably within its borders, no matter how high-priced it might become.
The unions were happy, until time for a new contract came along and the city, deep in a budget hole, sought some concessions. An uproar ensued, ending with a bitter garbage strike in which the mayor’s one-time friends roundly denounced him as a turncoat. (Any “friend” of labour who fails to give it what it wants is a “turncoat.”)