As unions go, the Canadian Auto Workers (CAW) is one of the country’s most successful; a body of power and influence.
It’s a union that can inflame a crowd and get hundreds of folks to do its bidding, even at great personal expense.
For what must be the first time ever, the CAW recently has inflamed hundreds all right, but this time the crowd will not be doing the union’s bidding. In fact, these people are inflamed against the union.
The issue is the CAW’s plans to erect a giant wind turbine on the site of its “world-renowned family education centre” (their words, not mine) in Saugeen Shores.
It just so happens that the centre is on the edge of Goble’s Grove, one of the best of the best Lake Huron beach areas.
The family education centre admittedly has always been an asset to the area, and the union by all accounts has been an upstanding citizen.
Now the residents of Saugeen Shores, joined by wind power protesters from across the province and beyond, are up in arms because the CAW has begun to act like, well, like a big organization with lots of power.
The protesters are learning that powerful unions can listen to the people just as ineffectively and with just as much feigned interest as powerful governments.
Some wind power protesters seem surprised by this.
As one asked, “don’t they appreciate that the public bailed out the car industry and saved their high-paying jobs? And this is the way they thank us!”
A union riding roughshod over folks should come as no surprise to anyone who has been paying attention to labour politics in this country over the past three or four decades. Powerful unions are little different from powerful businesses.
The unions exist to support members and improve their lot in life, while businesses exist to produce and market products.
However, both are run by folks with big titles, big offices and big salaries to protect.
At that level there is scant difference between the two.
Which is all well and good in the ways of the modern world.
Where unions run off the rails is pretending they are more caring and warm-hearted than businesses.
Some are, others not so much.
Which brings us back to the CAW and its wind turbine plans for the heart of this stretch of cottage country.
At issue for opponents of the giant turbine, which will dwarf the famous Chantry Island lighthouse, are the health concerns for those living near wind turbines.
But opposition to wind power is about far more than health, as some critics suggest.
There is good reason to believe Ontarians have been sold a bill of goods about turbine developments, that they’re not nearly as efficient nor will produce the number of jobs the Dalton Gang says they will.
In addition, democracy has gone the way of the dodo bird on the issue.
Oh, sure, the developers will point to all kinds of consultations with the people affected.
They’ll just neglect to mention that none of the objectors had any power in those discussions.
In developing this turbine in Saugeen Shores, the CAW won’t be able to convince anyone it is on the side of the angels this Christmas. Because it isn’t.
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