Okay, this is just my opinion, and it's not going to happen, but . . .
Wouldn't it be nice if people suddenly had great flashes of insight into their behavior and acted upon it? Say somebody who'd made huge piles of money through actions that lost people their jobs.
Robert Milton, for example. The chair of ACE holdings, Air Canada's parent, has no qualms about trumpeting his ruthlessness in having stripped the airline and other ACE holdings. Milton said recently: "The parts of the airline were worth more than an airline would ever be."
So there. Tish-tosh. Laid-off workers, lost homes, fear, uncertainty and dread. Not his problem. He's made a fortune, scooping up $43 million in salary and stock options in 2007, and is in line to receive another $10 million when ACE winds down this year. He's off to live in the U.K. when ACE winds down later this year.
But, imagine - just imagine - he has a Eureka! moment. Snug in his bed and about to drift off, Milton sees a vision of the long line of former Air Canada employees snaking around the block in front of a food bank. He sees a little boy on crutches with one woman.
At that very moment, he suddenly thinks: "Hey, I don't need millions and millions of dollars for myself. I think I'm taking too much. Something is way out of whack here, and I'm going to fix it."
From the next morning, like a modern-day Scrooge, Robert Milton made his life about giving back. And one day, well in the future, Air Canada employees would speak with love and respect of their patron saint, Robert Milton. Pilots would stick small portraits of him in the cockpit to give them courage and hope, and Canadian airline passengers, enjoying the best service in the world, would bless the day he joined the Air Canada team.
Pay equity scorecard: Obama, 1; Harper, 0.
Two weeks into the job, and President Barack Obama signs pay equity legislation for federal service workers. Not bad. This new administration seems to frown on discrimination, and paying women less than men for the same job certainly qualifies.
What a coincidence. The Canadian government acted on pay equity legislation in the same week. But what did Prime Minister Stephen Harper do? He signed off on a budget that promises to introduce legislation that removes the right to go to court over pay inequity and makes the matter of lower pay a matter for collective bargaining with public service unions. Another swipe at women.
It was doubly disappointing because the Public Service Alliance of Canada worked hard to make its position known to the government. In November, PSAC national president John Gordon met to discuss the issue with John Baird, minister of transport, infrastructure and communities. He then followed up in a letter, obtained by the Decoder, that stresses the importance of levelling the playing field. He noted the PSAC is pleased the government is "committed to pay equity" - a view he mistakenly got when he met Baird face-to-face. Wrote Gordon:
"As pay equity is a fundamental human right, it cannot be negotiable. . . Pay equity must not be subject to bargaining table pressure tactics which might result in pay equity obligations being used as a means of extracting concessions or avoiding agreement on wage-related bargaining issues.
"Pay equity is a systemic remedy to systemic, historical and persistent wage discrimination. The federal government should be a lead employer in implementing equal pay for work that has been empirically demonstrated 'of equal value' - and not rely on the value the market may attribute to the work."
Gordon stressed his willingness to meet again with Baird, concluding that "getting it right is in the interests of all Canadians, including the thousands of federal workers who serve the Canadian public and who deserve to be paid fairly."
Nice idea, but no go. Looks like Baird dropped the letter in File 13.
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