The first clause of Section 15 of the Canadian Constitution states, “Every individual is equal before and under the law and has the right to equal protection and equal benefit of the law without discrimination.”
The only reason this statement is enshrined in law is because we don’t believe it’s true.
With the help of Janice MacKinnon and her blue-ribbon panel, the Kenney government has cleverly set a trap to use unions and professional associations to distract the public from their real agenda.
Unemployed white-collar workers in Calgary and blue-collar oil-related workers throughout the province are angry because they believe the upper elite socialist civil servants (doctors, nurses and teachers) were protected during the recession while they disproportionately bore the financial pain.
Conveniently forgetting that our nurses, doctors and teachers are the best paid in Canada because the oil industry pushed up Alberta’s average wage rates to levels not seen in other provinces.
Previous conservative governments had no choice but to increase the wages of these professionals in order to recruit and retain them during a time of extreme wage and population growth.
Jealousy and hatred are two powerful emotions that enable unscrupulous political leaders to employ bullying and fear to get elected and sustain power.
Jealous and angry people will accept the pain of labour unrest in our hospitals and schools because ‘we’re sticking it to the socialist elites’.
How often do we say out loud or in our heads, “I work hard whereas civil servants are lazy, over-compensated, take too much sick time and receive a cushy pension.” Or “I deserve more because I’ve made better choices or I was born into a hard-working family and we’ve contributed so much more than them.”
We have a foreshadowing of what 2020 will look like in Alberta because we’ve done the slash and burn of civil servants, public institutions and infrastructure before in the 1970s.
We still live with the consequences of those cuts 40 years later with a shortage of hospital beds and medical specialists in all cities, including Red Deer, excessively long bus rides for rural students, overcrowded classrooms in larger centers and high municipal debt.
It’s not in human nature to be humble.
Yet it’s very easy to exalt oneself by putting down others.
Too many, who have never worked in a civil servant position and are egged on by populist governments and right-wing think tanks, exalt themselves by putting down and degrading those who work in jobs serving the people.
Religious texts of all faiths address arrogance in the human heart and warn against the evils of vengeance.
These texts also encourage believers not to take advantage of the weak and poor, love their enemies and not put themselves in the higher place. But, alas, it’s tempting and often easy to set aside general consideration and kindness towards others when our hearts and minds have been primed with envy and hatred.
Kenney is taking away the bargaining rights of professional associations and unions by using the courts and because he has an ace in the hole—the notwithstanding clause that supersedes the first clause of Section 15 of the Constitution—he and his oil patch cronies will win. But at what cost to civil society?