Saturday, February 11, 2012

Stephen Harper and Casey Jones

In the picture, our Hero tries his best to look like Casey Jones.

When this picture was taken in 2008, Stephen Harper was extolling the virtues of his tax programmes and how the $5 Million tax break for buyers of locomotives as part of His $1 Billion corporate tax cut plan was going to ensure more jobs in communities such as London that are home to factories like Electro-Motive Diesel (EMD).

However, when the picture was taken, Caterpillar was not “in the picture” as EMD was owned by Equity Groups.

In June, 2010 Caterpillar decided to buy EMD and in order for the sale to proceed, the purchase had to be reviewed by the Cabinet of Stephen Harper to ensure a net benefit to Canada.

Now you might remember this “net benefit” review as it occurred when the Potash Corporation was up for sale to foreign interests and the Harper Party blocked the sale. They had no qualms with Caterpillar buying EMD on 2010 and it slid quietly through.

This is where I get confused.

If EMD was so important to Canada that its sale had to be reviewed by Cabinet before it could proceed, why then does the closure of this plant some 18 months later not evoke an outcry from Ottawa? Not even a “Tsk Tsk”?

No, the only thing we hear from the Stephen Harper Party is more casting of blame. The Ontario Government should have stepped in and mediated. The workers should have taken the new contract.

Mediated what? CAT laid out its offer and told the CAW to take it to the workers who rejected it. CAT promptly locked the doors. I seriously doubt that CAT had any intention of keeping this plant open and lowballed their offer to ensure that it was rejected.

Of course they waited until after the “Right to Work” Legislation passed in Indiana. Go figure.

As for the chattering right who say the workers should have accepted the “offer” I have one question. What would you do if Your boss told you your wages and benefits were being cut by over 50%? Now you can’t afford your mortgage? Now you can’t afford your car payment? Now your kid can’t have braces?

For an economist, Stephen Harper sure doesn’t seem to get it. Our economy revolves around the middle class and the middle class is disappearing. The tax cuts aren’t working.

Most of the EMD employees who had their jobs taken from them will find work eventually, but not at the wages they were earning. They will spend less, the grocery stores will carry more ground beef and less steak. The restaurants will layoff staff and raise prices to adjust, or they will just disappear. The economy will suffer.

All the while Stephen Harper waves from the window of the Stephen Harper Party train as it roars past, acting like Casey Jones… but remember what happened to Casey Jones?

He died in a train wreck.

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