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Free Parking

This Magazine Staff

Parks Canada is being completely outclassed in their labour dispute with the Public Service Alliance of Canada. What with the precious summer days of Canada nearing their end, it should be relatively easy for the Parks department to encourage resentment for union action among a public desperate to squeeze in a bit more camping, hiking and canoeing before the leaves fall and the frost sets in. “The damned union is trying to keep you away from your great natural birthright! How dare they… etc.”
Today’s Globe ran a piece describing how the union has managed to subvert any such attacks by strategic withdrawl of services – like, say, pulling union members from the admission booths, and thereby making your National Parks not only easier to enter, but blissfully free. Parks Canada spins this little detail in the FAQ on their site by saying they will be providing free admission to select parks (i.e. the parks experiencing collective action) to make up for any service shortfalls.
Meanwhile the PSAC site documents the wholly strange scenario of Parks Canada managers flexing their intimidation muscles by videotaping union picketers outside Green Gables, the completely fictional setting for our completely fictional national literary treasure, Anne Shirley.
This is hilarious stuff. I would guess it’s pretty hard to generate sympathy for the working conditions of someone who wears shorts to work everyday and has beach patrol in a dune buggy as part of their duties, yet the PC management has not been able to capitalize on such an obvious pr strategy – think boaters trapped by closed locks, swimming children left lifeguardless. Plus, with managers doing everything from water testing to basic safety patrols, Parks Canada now has to worry about its liability should a member of the public get sick or meet a grumpy bear on Parks property.

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