Thoughts and Opinions On Today's Important Issues

Tuesday, June 02, 2009

Explaining The CUPE Strike (Part II)

A pleasant lunch in the County with the person who seemingly knows everything about everything but who did not want to talk about the border, his favourite subject, this time around.

He wanted to chat about the City/CUPE strike instead.

Naturally, he had to drop the bombshell to get my attention:

  • “Of course you understand that there is a lot more involved in this than the CUPE strike don’t you?”

I hated this.

Of course I did not have the faintest idea what he was talking about and he knew it. If I knew, then there would be no need to have lunch! Wasn’t that why he always called me, to let me in on the secrets so that I could inform my readers.

How could he say "a lot more involved in this." I had read Henderson's Saturday column, especially the first and last paragraphs. How could there be more if Gord did not know:

  • "I don't want to believe it. But it appears, more and more, that Canada's largest union, CUPE, is on a mission to destroy labour's credibility in the Windsor heartland of its arch-rival, the CAW. For 40 years, off and on, this former labour reporter and ex-CAW member has been following the ups and downs of the city's union movement, but in all that time I've never witnessed a public relations train wreck like the current debacle involving city hall employees...

    I don't know if it was CUPE's intent. Or mere incompetence. But its bizarre handling of this dispute, turning it into a war against the community while the community is on its knees, and while a pragmatic CAW is making huge concessions to save jobs, dishonours the Windsor labour movement."

Arch-rival and pragmatic gave it all away to me! What more could there be? Why Eddie could be the big hero at the AMO 2010 conference down here:

  • "This is a wonderful opportunity for Windsor and Essex County to welcome representatives from across the province and to showcase all that this region has to offer," said Windsor Mayor Eddie Francis. "This is a region that is on the front line of many of the challenges facing municipalities in Ontario today and we hope that holding the conference here will add a further dimension to the experience for conference participants."

Deep Throat continued

  • “What we are really seeing is the start of the war to see who will “rule” Windsor!”

  • “Rule Windsor?” I sputtered. “What the heck does that mean? Who cares about this little pond in the forgotten part of Ontario.”

Deep Throat had that air of superiority about him now that annoyed me but what could I do. He always told me something I never suspected, that I had never considered.

  • “My dear boy, the big money boys love Windsor! It is precisely because it is invisible that makes it so valuable. No media to ask questions, lack of big ticket project experience, a "visionary" Mayor with grand ambitions, virtually no opposition with a rubber-stamp Council and a lot of money to be made here with a "Sole Source" Purchasing By-law Provision!

    It's ideal. Perfect. A dream come true for those who make big bucks by number crunching.

    Of course you remember MFP and that huge $300M contract. Think of these numbers:

     Tunnel deal $75-100M and control of a major border crossing for years
     $1B for a new bridge and control of a major border crossing for years
     Control over the future of the Blue Water Bridge asset sales and perhaps the new bridge in Fort Erie/Buffalo
     Tolls, tolls, tolls
     Multi-billions in profits for a P3 DRIC road
     $¾B for WUC improvements with a huge 86% increase in rates to build upon
     Hundreds of millions for an Enwin sale
     Airport lands development

    Need I go on? The amounts are breathtaking for such a small town.

    Whoever rules Windsor, has tremendous control over these projects and the profits to be earned.”

For the first time I thought that Deep Throat had lost it. It was so ridiculous. Everyone knows that the real power in Windsor is the Minister of Finance, Dwight Duncan! Who else could say “THE MAYOR IS WRONG. THE MAYOR IS WRONG” and get away with it!

He is after all the second most powerful politician in Ontario and was a big man on the IGGY leadership team! From successful Energy Minister to Finance to perhaps the Premier’s position if McGuinty decides to go or perhaps to a Federal Cabinet post, Spanky has no challengers!

I almost yelled as I said it

  • “Please, get real. Eddie Francis is no match for Dwight Duncan and his political machine.”

I knew that Deep Throat was leading me to this but I had no desire to drink the water. I continued

  • “Why if Bill Marra had not made several fatal blunders in his mayoral campaign, he would have been mayor. Why he did not run the last time is beyond me since he would have beaten Francis badly.

    Dwight’s local political organization cannot be matched and he has access to all of the campaign funds he needs!”

Deep Throat looked amused.

  • “I was certain that is what you would say and you did not disappoint me. However, you do need to broaden your reading BLOGMeister. A very shrewd politico in the region also writes a BLOG but under the radar and he has been going after the Finance Minister, pointing out his political vulnerabilities:

     Huge Duncan budget deficits over the next 2 or 3 years
     Unemployment will increase as manufacturing declines
     The billions for the CAW auto workers pension liability especially because of the sit-in at his constituency office
     The harmonized PST & GSTtaxes
     He will be known as the "tax and spend" Minister who makes Bob Rae look good.

    He recognized the war too between the two of them some time ago but not many noticed it!

    As Minister of Finance, Dwight gets blamed for the mess big time even if it is not his fault. He becomes the scape-goat especially in his own home town that is suffering the most. Why else do you think that Windsor has received so much Provincial money these days. Two Ministers are at risk!

    The other point that I also found fascinating in his BLOG was his admiration for the job that Senior has been doing calling him astute, undervalued!”

My jaw dropped. Deep Throat was right, again! I understood his explanation. There was the connecting link that no one but Deep Throat had figured out!

Duncan was now very vulnerable politically and I had just Blogged about how Senior was being "deified." I remembered my high school Shakespeare play when Falstaff said that it was now becoming here apparent who might become heir apparent to Windsor's throne.

I understood it now in a flash. It was all to build a massive power base. The CUPE strike was nothing more than a tool to seal a deal between the CAW and the Mayor. I guessed that the CAW had no idea that it was being used either as part of something much, much bigger. They were primarily interested in the increased number of members.

Heck, if Buzz could support the Liberals, Senior could support his son's buddy, our Mayor!

Wow, what a thought. Eddie being supported by the CAW members bolstered by CUPE card-holders. Everyone would forget about the strike unpleasantness once Senior and Eddie settled the deal. How many photos, Editorials and Henderson columns would the Star run praising the two of them for putting aside their personal animosities for the well-being of the City and the workers!

Such drama, such theatrics...I had not seen anything like this other than the scare headlines in the auto talks.

I blurted out:
  • "Imagine the leverage this would give the Mayor over the two Provincial Cabinet Members! He could make or break them with the CAW Union support behind him, never mind the media support. With Federal and provincial elections coming up too, why everyone would be vulnerable and he would be in the driver's seat!

    Eddie could run against either one of the Ministers provincially. He could run federally too against Dwight and beat him easily if Comartin retired or could go after Masse’s seat as Brian already suspects. And get a Cabinet position too, perhaps as Border Czar. Or he could remain as Mayor. A job in high finance was also not out of the question either, never mind practising law."

The permutations were making me dizzy.

If the Province would bow down to Eddie to save 2 Cabinet Ministers---how else to explain the Red Bull money which may have hurt other regional festivals if their funds were reduced for the Windsor extravaganza---he could pressure the Feds too.

No wonder Jeff Watson was so nice about the canal. An "A+" grade for Eddie. Someone has been doing some calculations at the Conservative Party HQ too! They remembered as well that CAW boosted the Liberals and there still are a lot of Liberals in Windsor.

I was stunned, in awe

  • “How could Eddie plot all of this. I know he is a legal technocrat but he has so many balls in the air now, how could he add another one! And one so complicated as well.”

Just at this moment, I saw a movement out of the corner of my eye. It was one of my military escorts. I knew lunch was over. I heard Deep Throat sigh and say

  • “It has all become about power and control, dear boy. Who will wear the Crown in Windsor!

    And, you forgot about the Eminence Greasie didn't you. That is something no one should ever do. Never!”