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Location: Toronto, Ontario, Canada

Saturday, September 10, 2005

Must... Stop... Blogging...


I've noticed that several lock out bloggers have let their blogs slide, though, while others are starting to slip off topic. Hey, it's their blogs, their lives, more power to them. They might (gasp!) actually have lives. And who knows, maybe someday (thousands of years from now) I too might lose interest in this blog.

Umm... not to suggest that the lockout might last several thousand years. When the lockout's ended I just may continue this blog, make it a sort of an insider's critique of the CBC.

Right up until they fire my ass, that is.

In the meantime, it seems to me that the lock out blogs are (naturally) changing character somewhat. Tod Maffin and John Gushue are no longer doing their blog reduxes to the extent that they were, probably because:

A. it's too time consuming
B. they have lives, and
C. because Tessa Sproule is doing it for them. She also does it for the CBC On The Line page.

Instead, Tod and John are doing more the sort of thing that I do, which is to include salient links in the body of posts whenever doing so seems appropriate.

Other bloggers are falling off the map entirely, including Curious Monkey, which is odd, considering Curious Monkey got mentioned in the Globe (or the Star, or the Post, can't remember which) early on. Perhaps the exposure frightened monkey off. I jokingly chastised Dan Misener on the line yesterday for not updating his blog and he turned bright red and mumbled something about being in love, no time for blogs. Good on ya, Dan! And, famously, Ouimet is apparently giving up the ghost, attempting to hand off the baton to some other manager.

I scanned all the blogs tonight and spotted about a dozen, fifteen max (I wasn't really counting... I do actually have a life, you know) that had been recently updated, that looked like they had more than a smidgeon of life left to them. I won't tell you which ones, cause it's more fun just to wade through them all and see for yourself.

In another couple of weeks it'll just be us hard core bloggers left, blogging with anything resembling regularity.

And a week or two after that we'll be blogging from the inside.

Best Sign Seen (Friday, Sept 9th)

Courtesy of Ian Cauthery.

We need more signs like this. They're printing the lame generic lockout stuff on both sides of the bristleboard now.

Stop doing that! (Umm... please?)

It doesn't give people like Mr. Cauthery a place to draw their great stuff.

The Infamous Webcam

In the off chance you were wondering exactly where it is...

Here's a view from further back:


John Gushue has taken aim at anonymity. He has a valid point. Some bloggers (well, at least one) are using it as a weapon as opposed to a shield, lobbing venomous posts from within their cloak of anonymity. I'd like to know how people feel about it. I hope I haven't abused my anonymity. I've tried to be reasonable as opposed to venomous, although I sometimes get carried away with my rhetoric (sorry).

I may quietly add my real name to my profile eventually. The fact is most of my friends in Toronto already know who I am, and I can't imagine that too many other people really care. Does my anonymity undermine the points I'm trying to make? Should I have the courage to step forward and take responsiblity for my opinions?

Or is discretion the better part of valour?

CRTC Trouble

I'll be posting little bits and pieces all weekend, as there's a lot I want to post and I don't want it all jumbled in one long, incomprehensible post. Plus I have a busy family weekend ahead of me, and if I'm caught on the computer too much I'm in the doghouse.

I really hate sleeping in the doghouse.

So this morning's bit (aside from the Bob pic below) is this: according to one source, CBC television is risking trouble with the CRTC. I quote: "CBC is in violation of its broadcast charter for support of impaired viewers and local news coverage." This is full net. The CRTC could potentially come down heavy on the CBC for this... and I hope they do.

Last Man Out

Locked out out radio news announcer Bob McGregor was "the last man" out when the lock out was declared. A manager wanted him to read only one minute of the newscast at midnight, but Bob insisted on reading the entire newscast before allowing himself to be escorted out. He said he felt that it was the "professional thing to do."

The Sixteen Hour Day

It was dark when I started...

And dark when I finished:

Well, the flash makes it look brighter than it was. Trust me, it was dark. Started at 5:30am and finished at 9:30pm. Sure hope I added it up right. Wouldn't want to be off by an hour!

Did a lot of talking and thinking that will no doubt prompt a few posts over the next few days. Snapped a few interesting pictures, too, which I'll post here and there. In the meantime, thanks to Robin Rowland for seconding my thoughts on binding arbitration (although he actually brought the subject up first). Robin also assured me that when he used the word "vocation" in one of his posts, he meant it (mostly) in a good way. I thanked him for clearing that up in an e-mail which, as a bonus, revealed my top secret identity, which unfortunately isn't that much of a bonus as I think it's well on it's way to being one of the worst kept secrets of the millenia.

A demain...

Thursday, September 08, 2005

Rabinovitch Should Resign

Oh gee, did I say that already?

My bad.

Tomorrow is my sixteen hour picket day. I phoned a friend on the nightshift yesterday. He did sixteen hours on Tuesday. He laughed when I said I was doing it tomorrow. A sad, maniacal kind of laugh.

We spoke about the nightshift. They're a different breed, the night shift. Hardier. Grittier. Sleepier. Oddly, my friend hadn't heard about the famous Krista and Fred memo. He also subscribed to the notion that this lockout is all about saving the corporation money in wages, and that when the corporation has saved enough money, it'll be over. He wasn't familiar with the union busting theory. I suggested this theory to my friend. "Nah," he scoffed. "It's all about saving dough." He sounded distracted... I could hear some kind of sporting event on the tv in the background. I mentioned the blogs. He said he wasn't up on them. I told him I was doing one. There was a long pause in which it sounded like somebody scored. "Well, the waiter should have taken it back," he told me.

So I probably won't post tomorrow until after midnight. I guess technically that would be the day after tomorrow. Until then, I highly recommend you keep yourself entertained with Matt Watt's blog. Start right from the beginning (it begins a few months before the lockout) and read the whole thing right through.


See you tomorrow, if you're out there.

I'll be the one with the hat.

Globe and Mail Poll

Get your vote in. The Globe and Mail is asking whether Canada needs the CBC.

The poll is on the top right hand side. Don't get distracted by all the other stories that we ought to be covering but can't.

For the record, I voted yes.

Binding Arbitration

My father is a civilized, intelligent man, and he belonged in a union most if not all of his working life. As a kid I remember somebody going on strike somewhere, prompting me to ask Dad, "Could you guys ever go on strike?"

"No," he said. "With us it could only ever go to binding arbitration." He explained to me that in a civilized country, in a civilized age, we should go about our business in a civilized fashion.

A bit of a tangent... this whole lockout puts me in mind of the great fish war. A few years ago, if you recall, Brian Tobin just about took us to war with Spain over fish. Imagine... Canada at war with Spain in this day and age! You might not recall, but both sides had boats with guns off the coast of Newfoundland. There is no question but that the cause was just. Spain had just about depleted fish stocks and yet refused to stop fishing. What choice had we but to resort to violence? And before you knew it this peace loving nation was all afire with the notion that yeah, Canada could actually kick some butt, and we were righteous, we were proud, and sure enough we saved the fish, but man! We just about went to war with Spain. In this day and age.

It's only the result of considerable luck and some keen diplomacy that we managed to emerge from the altercation with no sanctions from the world community (except for Spain)... and that no blood was shed. According to James Bartleman, Chretien's foreign affairs advisor at the time (and my primary source for this little sermon), Europeans were flabbergasted that Canada should resort to such means. In an age when we're all supposed to be civilized.

When confronted with the fact that I'm actually locked out of work, deprived of income and dental benefits (I woke up the other day with a toothache, believe it or not), I cannot help but think: how is this possible in this day and age? Twenty-five years ago my father's union utilized binding arbitration. Mind you, this was in a civilized portion of our great land. Why such civilized notions have not spread to the rest of this unruly country in that time is beyond me.

I have broached the subject of binding arbitration on the line. When the laughter dies down, I am gently reminded that in fifteen months they could not come up with an agreement; there is no reason to believe that binding arbitration would work.

This is where I get passionate. Brace yourselves: The reason they never came up with an agreement is because THEY KNOW THEY DIDN'T HAVE TO. If they were forced into binding arbitration neither side could resort to a strike or lockout. Management could not count on forcing us into a lockout situation in an effort to break the union. Both sides would be rather more motivated to come up with a deal in the time that they had. Lest an arbitrator do it for them.

Strikes and lockouts are uncivilized and unnecessary.

Binding arbitration, folks.

We'd never have to walk the line again.

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Moved to Blog

When I first started blogging the lockout there were about twelve bloggers doing the same. That was at the beginning of week two. Now, according to at least one source, there are over fifty. Not all of them are active; many of them post once a week, if at all. Still, the Blog Redux People have their work cut out for them keeping up with it all. Of the bloggers that do post semi-regularly, everybody has a different approach. Some goofy, some hostile, some serious, some ambivalent, some over the top, some poetic. I won't say who I consider what, just that I respect them all.

Myself, I think I'm somewhere between reflective and rhetorical, probably erring on the side of too earnest sometimes. I try to make the odd point. I try to present any new information I happen to uncover. But mostly I just try to stay on topic, although sometimes I fail miserably, such as in this post. What are ya gonna do.

The problem is it's been awhile since I've been out to picket. Usually I come back from the line brimming with posts; I'll be picketing sixteen hours on Friday... with any luck that will generate a few good posts, not to mention several blisters, and perhaps a few good pics as well.

Sometimes I catch myself wishing I was one of them journalistic types, with perhaps a bit more time on my hands, capable of creating such amazingly comprehensive sites as Tod Maffin's, or as insightful and informative as that of Robin Rowland's (his current post notwithstanding). But alas I am not a journalist per se, or even pro bono, let alone obscurum per obscurius.

And so it is that I fling myself violently out of bed in the middle of the night, troubled by the sure and certain knowledge that I really have to pee. And as I stand there, peeing, I ask myself the hard questions. I mean the really hard ones, such as: why do I have to pee so much at night? And then: what is the point of blogging? After which I rouse myself in the morning, pee again, then stare at the computer for an inordinate amount of time, digesting other locked out workers' posts. Wondering if any of us are having any impact.

I confess I find it odd that my blog gets so many hits, and yet so few comments. Am I on target? Or considered a nut? Beneath contempt, perhaps? Are people annoyed that I'm anonymous? Is it any wonder that I'm anonymous after paragraphs like that last one? Sheesh!

And yet I continue to blog. It's good to see so many other lockout blogs. It's a healthy blogosphere, very little in the way of chlorofluorocarbons so far.

Keep 'em comin'.

Deux Sollicitudes

From blogger Picket in the Park:

"...when the media talks about the "labour dispute" at the CBC, many of them are quick to say that this affects only English Television and Radio, since our colleagues in Qu├ębec belong to a different union (or unions to be exact). This frustrates me because they fail to realize or take into account that every CBC location across the country has the Radio-Canada counterpart."

Canadian francophones outside of Quebec probably depend on Radio Canada even more than their English Canadian counterparts. Most francophones outside of Quebec are probably at least somewhat bilingual (that's just a guess) but still I imagine the elimination of this service rankles considerably.

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Rowland Issues Correction

Robin Rowland may be right about a lot of things, but he issued the following correction on his blog today:

"In an earlier post I reported that the Canadian Media Guild's strike mandate expired on September 8. It would have expired--if management had not ordered the lockout. Under a Canadian Industrial Relations Board ruling when the CBC locked out its Quebec employees, a lockout voids the best before date on a strike vote."

Declining Bank Accounts

A glimpse into a locked out worker's deteriorating financial status.

Rabinovitch Should Resign

Looks like Ouimet is thinking pretty much what I was thinking in my last post. That the Feds should replace Rabinovitch with someone actually capable of running the national public broadcaster, as opposed to someone hell bent on destroying it.

But really, today I'm thinking that Rabinovitch himself should just do the honourable thing and resign. That's usually what happens when a prominent public servant messes up. Yes, he should simply resign, along with the rest of his cronies, the whole lot of them, anyone implicated in this whole debacle. They should admit that they messed up. That they took Canada's national public broadcaster off the air (and worse, kept it off the air) at a most inopportune time, just as stunning, unprecedented world events were transpiring.

Of course, willfully depriving the Canadian public at any time of a service that we own, that many of us rely on, and that we continue to pay for every single day that it is effectively hamstrung is deplorable, and should be eminent grounds for the dismissal of those responsible.

So just do the right thing and resign, Bob. And George, and Dick.

Go screw up somebody else's public institution, if you really must.

Sunday, September 04, 2005

Wishing Canned Clams Well

Everybody please wish Canned Clams well, his four month old son is ill, they're testing him now to see if it's serious. I pray that it's not.

Heads Will Roll

Actually managed to stop thinking about the lockout by getting outside, hitting the lakeshore, enjoying the weather. I'm sure this is a good thing, perhaps even a healthy thing, but you have to understand that I'm not trying to refrain from thinking about the lockout. I'm one of those sad, annoying people that Robin Rowland was talking about in his Fort Confusion post who feels that working for the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation is bit of a vocation. (Not sure Robin quite meant it as a compliment, though...) Course these days it feels more like a vacation than a vocation... albeit a vacation sans pay.

So for some perverse reason I don't really mind thinking about the lockout. (I'm far from the only one...) These days, as I watch the senior managers effectively snatch defeat from the jaws of victory what with the Guild's failure to fold, and virtually all support coming down on any side other than theirs, I'm thinking about how to make it work for us. I'm thinking perhaps some good may come of this lockout after all. Course I am a damned fool optimist.

This whole lockout thing must have seemed like a great idea to senior management not all that long ago... which, of course, is precisely how such catastrophes are born: the result of a series of small decisions that all seemed like a good idea at the time. I expect they've wiped those smug smiles off their faces by now. For while I don't think it's exactly a catastrophe yet, if it continues past October it will be. A catastrophe for senior management, a catastrophe for the CBC, a catastrophe for the Canadian public. Not to mention a catastrophe --or at the very least pretty darned annoying -- to me and about 5499 other people. It's for this reason that I'll go out on a limb and suggest that shortly after the Guild's strike mandate expires (Sept 8th... thanks again to Robin Rowland for that bit of info) we should start to see some high wattage light at the end of the tunnel.

If for some bizarre reason the lockout is not ended before October (which, incidentally, would indicate certain as opposed to merely apparent madness on the part of senior management) then a catastrophe will indeed have occurred. The CBC as we know it will have become a thing of the past. Most of us staff will blow the dust off our resumes and go to work for Tim Hortons (or the equivalent), hard-core fans will sigh ruefully and learn to love Lloyd, and if there is any justice in the universe, heads will begin to roll. For surely to God somebody somewhere (and I'm not talking about someone in the capital of Botswana) will hold certain people accountable for clubbing to death a large, helpless Canadian Institution.

This is where I'm seeing some serious silver lining. Such accountability has to happen, hopefully sooner rather than later, ideally before the aforementioned clubbing. It has to happen because this management team has gambled with Canada's public broadcaster and lost. At the risk of belabouring the obvious, the single biggest natural disaster occurs in North America and Canada's public broadcaster isn't there to cover it. It's tape we're not going to get back. Somebody's got to answer for that.

Regardless of when this accountability happens, it's an opportunity to put someone in charge of the place that actually knows a little something about broadcasting. Preferably someone passionate about public broadcasting. Myself, I wouldn't mind at all if they considered it a vocation.

Just as long as it isn't some bean counter hell bent on making the place appear to run efficiently at the expense of having it actually run efficiently. And killing it in the process.