A Rule of Law in Contempt of Modern Conditions
The Conflict Between What Is Declared Legal and What the Conditions Require Is a Big Problem Facing Canadians
— K.C. Adams —
The legality of the Kenney government’s anti-worker Bill 9 will be challenged in the courts and, importantly, it is being challenged outside the courts. In overturning the injunction that allowed the wage reopener arbitration to proceed, the two justices of the Appeals Court abide by outmoded arguments which are in contempt of a modern understanding of the purpose of law to serve the cause of justice. Essentially, the two justices in rejecting the injunction argue that the horse should be permitted to run wild because in due course an opportunity will arise to argue that the barn door should be closed. Where is any concern for the damage to workers and the services they provide? This damage will already have been done long before any court challenge is successful or not.
Labour laws consider workers as a “special interest group” for which the right to a process of collective bargaining provides a defence against powerful interests. This gives the “special interest group” the right under the Charter to organize collectively within what are called reasonable limits determined by those in political control. But workers are not a special interest group; they are the producers of social value on which the people and society rely for their existence. The working class accepts its duty to work and produce, and with this acceptance comes rights.
A problem arises because labour law, the courts and governments do not recognize the dignity, place of honour and rights of workers as the producers of all social value. This refusal creates a conflict between the authority and the modern conditions. That is a big problem facing the people and society, which needs to be addressed and resolved.
Who decides what is in the public and national interest? Who decides and controls whose rights must be upheld and guaranteed as a matter of principle? At this time, governments control and rule on behalf of the global oligarchs, such as in the case of Alberta’s Bill 9 or Trudeau’s criminalizing of postal workers or inaction to make sure railways are safe, or any other decision taken. The public and national interest and rights of working people are defined as whatever serves the powerful private interests of the financial oligarchy. This is the clash between authority and the modern conditions that working people must address and resolve.
Workers and their collectives do not accept that governments have a mandate to declare that whatever they do is in the public or national interest or that their rights can be given and taken away through legislation and a rule of law that does not serve the cause of justice. Working people do not accept that governments can claim a mandate to wreck public services, gift the rich with public assets, wage war, and carry out other anti-social assaults in the name of a public and national interest, which they define.
This is why the MLPC calls on them to speak out during this election to say that those claiming such a mandate do not speak in their name.