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Saturday, July 2, 2011

Canadian postal workers' union challenging back-to-work bill

   Canada column for Sunday, July 3/11


   (c) By Jim Fox

   Now that Canadians are receiving their mail again, the union representing Canada’s postal workers has launched a legal challenge of the bill that forced them back to work.
   The bill ending the strike/lockout of the 48,000 postal workers included a smaller raise in pay than what they had been last offered by Canada Post.
   The Conservative government was finally able to pass the bill after a 58-hour filibuster by the socialist New Democratic Party.
   On the non-monetary terms, it requires a mediator to choose either the demands of the Canadian Union of Postal Workers or the last offer of the post office.

   The union will ask the court to overturn the legislation, said Alain Duguay, head of the Montreal local, but mail will continue to move in the meantime.
   As well, the union is considering a discrimination complaint to the Human Rights Commission, claiming newer employees will not have the same pension benefits as older ones.
   Canada Post locked out the workers on June 14 after 12 days of rotating strikes.


   British royalty returned to what was once one of the “colonies” as the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge marked Canada Day on Parliament Hill on Friday.
   There was a sea of thousands of red and white well-wishers to greet Prince William and Kate to Canada’s 144th birthday party. Last year Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip attended the party in Ottawa.
   A 21-gun salute greeted the newlyweds as they arrived by carriage on what would have been the 50th birthday of William’s mother Diana, the late Princess of Wales.
   On their first visit overseas since their marriage, the couple will also travel to Montreal, Quebec City, Charlottetown, Yellowknife and Calgary, to open the world-renowned stampede, before leaving for California on July 8.


   News in brief:
   - Bell Canada has been fined $10 million by the Competition Bureau for misleading advertising by suggesting its prices were lower than what customers actually paid. The federal agency ruled that Bell charged higher-than-advertised prices for many of its services, including home phone, Internet, satellite TV and wireless, because they did not include additional mandatory fees.
   - The British Columbia government has named two men to head an independent review of the Stanley Cup riot in downtown Vancouver that resulted in damage estimated at $5 million. John Furlong, former head of the Vancouver Olympic committee, and Doug Keefe, a former deputy justice minister from Nova Scotia, will co-chair the review. They have a deadline of Aug. 31 to examine details of the melee, after the Vancouver Canucks lost in the final hockey game to the Boston Bruins, and prevent it from happening again.


   Facts and figures:
   Canada’s dollar is near a seven-week high at $1.0407 in U.S. funds. The U.S. greenback returns 96.09 cents Canadian, before bank exchange fees.
   The Bank of Canada's key interest rate remains at 1 percent while the prime lending rate is 3 percent.
   Canadian stock markets are mixed with the Toronto exchange index higher at 13,300 points and the TSX Venture Exchange slightly lower at 1,904 points.
   Lotto 6-49: (Wednesday) 3, 15, 23, 33, 39 and 47; bonus 41. (June 25) 4, 17, 23, 31, 45 and 48; bonus 29. Lotto Max: (June 24) 2, 9, 10, 15, 29, 44 and 48; bonus 22.


   Regional briefs:
   - Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty, who is seeking re-election to his third term on Oct. 6, said he’s in no rush to outline his plans. The Liberal platform will be a “natural extension” of accomplishments over the last eight years, he said. The Conservatives and New Democrats have outlined their plans that attack the Liberal taxation policies.
   - The Manitoba government is providing $194 million in aid to farmers who have lost their crops due to massive flooding. The amount is almost four times what was spent last year as “farmers can’t wait any longer for help,” said Agriculture Minister Stan Struthers.
   - Diners can find out just how fresh is the “catch of the day.” A website (thisfish.info) launched by Ecotrust Canada has fishermen, initially in Atlantic Canada and British Columbia, tagging their catches and entering the information. In the past month, Nova Scotia’s Gordon Beaton has found his Northumberland Strait lobsters making it to restaurants across Canada and the U.S., Belgium, the Netherlands, Italy, Singapore and Japan.


Jim Fox can be reached at canadareport@hotmail.com

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