Don’t blame unions for G20 chaos: I’m sure Duhaime would prefer that people who disagree with public policy stay home and shut up

It's hard to know where to begin in pointing out the flaws - or outright misleading propaganda - in Eric Duhaime's July 7 column blaming unions for the G20 "mess."

Unions, he says, are to blame, but he admits in his opening paragraph there was "excessive police repression."

Talk about blaming the victims!

Nothing that was done by labour-movement supporters can excuse "excessive police repression."

Excessive means to go beyond what is required.

The vast majority of protesters were peaceful, law-abiding citizens exercising their democratic rights.

If in doubt about the value of this kind of protest, I suggest a quick Google of Martin Luther King or Mahatma Gandhi.

I'm sure Duhaime would prefer that people who disagree with public policy (or perhaps just disagree with him) stay home and shut up, but, for now, that's not the kind of country in which we live.

He slams unions for expressing their views, but conveniently fails to mention the massive sums corporations pay to lobby governments for policies that protect them, often against the interests of citizens. Nor does he mention the billions of taxpayer dollars given in corporate welfare and subsidies, or lost to corporate tax cuts.

And let's not forget all the corporate donations to political parties.
As for unionization leading to unemployment! Tell that to those Nordic countries with high unionization rates which escaped the recent recession almost unscathed while other nations were thrown into chaos.

On unionization and choice in the U.S. - what he's talking about here is "right-to-work" legislation, which in typical extreme right-wing fashion means the opposite of what it says.

"Right-to-work" laws are designed purely to weaken the labour movement and to restrict the rights of workers to associate.

It should be noted that the 22 "right-to-work" states are the most depressed economically in the U.S. and have the lowest wages.

I guess that's the model Duhaime would like Canada to follow.

It's certainly the dangerous model members of the Wildrose Alliance Party want for Alberta.

On union dues, even the Supreme Court of Canada, in a ruling last year, reiterated that having all employees pay union dues is essential, because those unions perform tasks for all employees and must have the means to carry out their duties.

As for the $1-billion security tab (some have pegged the costs as high as $2 billion), blame Prime Minister Stephen Harper.

No other country has spent this much when hosting summits, even when faced with much more in the way of protests. French President Nicolas Sarkozy says he'll do the next summit for one-tenth the cost.

Let's remember, too, that unions are democratic.

If you don't like what your union leaders are doing, you can vote them out of office.

That's because unions believe in democracy.

It's a claim Duhaime might find difficult to make, with his objection to public debate on important decisions being carried out by government leaders behind closed doors.

Toronto Sun, Thurs July 7 2010
Byline: Gil McGowan, Guest Columnist

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