The Ontario Public Service Employees Union (OPSEU) labour contract dispute is entering its seventh week today. Talks have continued since April 2, but there is still no word or end in sight.
A couple of things have changed since that time.
Ontario has a new premier, Ernie Eves, who is reputed to desire a kinder, gentler more consultative government. Considering the record of the last one, it should not be too difficult to achieve that goal.
Ontario has a new cabinet. But Dave Tsubouchi continues to waste my tax dollars on half-truths and misleading advertising in every newspaper in Ontario. Dave is the chair of Management Board and the one who is in charge of the negotiations.
This money could have been used to settle the strike.
The Rainy River has thawed out from its icy cover and the annual migration of walleye upstream from Lake of the Woods to spawn has occurred. Anyone who passes by this stretch of the river below the Fort Frances dam can tell the fishing is good.
Anglers on both sides of the border take advantage of this pre-spawning population concentrated further by extremely low water levels from yet another mild winter.
Some anglers travel a considerable distance. In some spots, where the fishing is really good, you can almost cross the river without getting your feet wet by stepping from boat to boat.
These walleye have special regulations to limit over-harvest while they are so vulnerable. But no one is watching. All conservation officers are on the picket line. It is usually an enforcement priority.
Birds are starting to come back with the warmer weather, as well. Geese and ducks are well underway to the northern breeding sites and are found in concentration.
Deer and moose are plentiful after yet another mild winter and preparing to deliver their young. Deer are starting to feed in the farm fields to eat the first-growth grass after a winter of browsing twigs.
Most wildlife at this time of year are susceptible to exploitation for those who would disregard the laws. All conservation officers are on the picket line. No one is watching.
Reports of unlawful snowmobile use and fishing violations have been heard from within Quetico Provincial Park. To those who would take advantage of this labour dispute to further their exploitation of Ontario’s fish and game, there are no boundaries. No one is watching.
In addition, in Ontario while the strike lasts, there are no water or sewage inspections, air monitoring, environmental pollution monitoring, meat inspections, safe vehicle inspections, safe workplace inspections, overloaded vehicle inspections, health cards issued, summer jobs for students, fish stocking, Crown land work permits, environmental damage inspections, forest compliance audits, fish and wildlife studies, full forest firefighting service, licences issued, waterbomber planes ready to fly, or protection of our provincial parks.
OPSEU Local #711