Apologies to the federal NDP Atlantic Caucus for not making it to their “meet and greet” at Neighbour’s Pub in Dartmouth last night. There was an important sporting contest on, and Dartmouth is far away, and I’ve already met all of you anyway.
The caucus continues its visit to Halifax today, where it will be preparing for the upcoming session of parliament by … touring a metal fabrication diploma program. Huh.
Other highlights of today’s visit include a discussion about Bill C-10, the omnibus crime bill, meeting a political science class at Prince Andrew High School, a lunch meeting with the Public Service Alliance of Canada (closed to the media), and meeting provincial NDP representatives.
The whole thing wraps up at 2:30, with a press conference at the provincial NDP caucus office. According to the note to editors, the issues up for discussion include “the upcoming budget and reckless Conservative plans to cut the services Canadians rely on, as well as Conservative inaction on job creation, EI and health care.” I don’t particularly feel like asking about any of those things, but there you go.
Meanwhile, the city is grappling with the very real possibility of a transit strike beginning next Wednesday. The Amalgamated Transit Union Local 508 voted overwhelmingly to reject City Hall’s “final” offer yesterday evening, meaning the two sides have just over one week to work out a deal before the union can strike.
Metro Transit Director Eddie Robar says the municipality is committed to returning to the bargaining table this week. But, if that’s the case, why didn’t the municipality make a counter offer to the union’s counter offer to their final offer? Why tell the union to take it to their members for a vote? Here’s Robar’s response from last night:
Q: “But why did it come to this? You were at the table, you gave your final offer on January 12, they responded on January 13, and you told them the next week to take it to their members for a vote. I mean, why leave the table in the first place? Did you not anticipate they’d reject the offer?”
A: “Well, we were hopeful that they wouldn’t. We thought our offer was fair. But by the outcome of the vote obviously that’s not the case – from an ATU perspective. We still think that our offer is fair, but we’re willing to listen what the ATU has to say on those next bargaining dates and maybe we’ll see what happens then.”
We should hope the two sides will be able to bridge their differences this week. But I’m getting used to walking to work just in case.