It appears Dawn Sloane isn't the most popular councillor at city hall these
Word is more than a few of her colleagues were somewhat miffed when Sloane
told the CBC that maybe, just maybe, it may be time to reconsider the union's
offer to settle the transit strike through binding arbitration.
Until now, councillors have only discussed the issue behind closed doors,
leaving Mayor Peter Kelly to publicly reject the proposal.
So we decided to ask each councillor what they think. We sent them each an
email with this question: "Now that we are into the second month of the transit
strike, are you willing to consider binding arbitration to end the dispute and
get the buses back on the road?"
17 councillors replied. Eight councillors; Mosher, McCluskey, Hendsbee.
Streatch, Blumenthal, Dalrymple, Lund and Uteck all said no.
Here's how Councillor Sue Uteck put it, "Mayor Kelly is our spokesperson
and the direction given by council is no to binding arbitration."
Another eight took the time to reply without answering the question.
Councillors Karsten, Smith, Rankin, Wile, Adams, Nicoll, Fisher and
Barkhouse all said this was an issue to be discussed only by council, in-camera,
and they had no intention of sharing with the CBC, and by extension taxpayers,
their thoughts on binding arbitration.
Councillor Bill Karsten was by far the most eloquent in his email:
"Good morning Brian.
I feel it is only proper and polite to respond as
I would any e-mail. I also respect that you have a job to do and the media has
an appetite for news. I trust that you will respect that I am not going to
answer your question because simply put, it is a contractual matter and is
an in-camera issue.
For the record councillors Hum, Watts, Walker, Johns, Outhit and Harvey did
not reply to our email.
LESSONS FROM THE PAST
As this strike drags on, it's hard not to notice the similarites with the
strike that hit the Ottawa transit system a little more than three years
On December 10, 2008, 2,300 drivers, dispatchers and mechanics at OC
Transpo went on strike. The main issue - scheduling.
Here's an excerpt from a cbc.ca story
written on day 39 of that
strike - "Earlier in the week, striking transit workers spoke publicly about the
scheduling issue, which remains at the heart of the debate. They told reporters
that drivers should be able to continue to have a say over which shifts they
work, based on seniority, in order to balance their work lives and family
That strike lasted 51 days, and you guessed it, only ended when both sides
agreed to go to binding arbitration. But they had to be dragged kicking and
screaming to that settlement. They only agreed to it after the federal
government (which has jurisdiction over OC Transpo) threatened back to work
The Dexter government has that same power, but so far is refusing to grab
the hammer. A spokesperson for the Department of Labour confirms, again that at
this point, the province has no intention of intervening.
But then again we're only at day 34.