What Happened to the Free Market, Tories?

Julian Wolfe
March 13th, 2012

As one of the advocates for a free market and little government intervention Prime Minister Stephen Harper and his Conservative Party have proven to be one of the biggest interveners of our day. From the Postal Workers dispute to the potential Air Canada strike and likely to the many future walkouts, the Conservatives will interfere with the will of the free market and levy its heavy hand as government.

In advance of a strike to be held by Air Canada unions, Labor Minister Lisa Raitt introduced back to work legislation, what was and should be one of the rarest forms of intervention in a free market.

Raitt may say that her government “supports collective bargaining,” however she states that her government interferes because “union members do not ratify the deals.”

The notion that an agreement is not a deal until members vote on it is a central tenet of collective bargaining and nor the labor minister, or her colleagues, seem to recognize that.

Let us also recall that failed piece of legislation introduced a while back by Minister Raitt which would make the economy an essential service and thus take away the bargaining rights of all workers and all unions.

With the Conservatives intervening in collective bargaining and giving bailouts to failed companies with taxpayers’ money, one has to wonder what will be left of the free market.

If senior management at any company or public service know that the government will sweep in to bail them out of a mess of their own making, why would they bother to negotiate a deal with its work force? This will only lead to polarization and further disputes in the long run.

In the public sector disputes can lead to decreased productivity and efficiency which will cost taxpayers more in the long term.

If the Canadian government will promise selected companies bail outs and actively intervene on their behalf, what will happen to competition as monopolies build?

Monopolies are the reason why internet, phone, TV, and many other services in this country are much more expensive than in countries like Britain (when currencies are adjusted to have equivalent value) where the market is free and monopolies have been torn down. Monopolies are also the reason why Canada is lagging behind its competitors as cozy companies see no reason to innovate or compete. This is one of the drives stagnant job growth – which tax cuts couldn’t overcome – and while PM Harper is disappointed with the outcome, he really should have seen this coming.

The markets should be opened and bailouts denied. Let the market, like nature, run its natural course. If a company blunders and finds itself in bankruptcy it should be left to restructure or disappear. Don’t forget how much money goes to CEO bonuses.

If Canadian companies cannot compete with foreign companies on Canadian soil, then they are unworthy of existence, and their workers deserve a better platform to work on.

It was the Conservatives that said, rightfully, that competition was good for the consumer and the economy and that intervention in the private affairs of business is bad, why are they backtracking?

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