The Filibuster Comes To Canada
Personally, I don't know who was on the side of the angels on this one. I'm not up on the specifics of the previous or current Canada Post labour contract, or the precedents for Parliament forcing a deal. Neither are most Canadians. Because of that, politically this wasn't about pensions or even unions - it was all about getting the mail going again.
Yes, in the year 2011 it's certainly possible to get by without the Post Office, but the lock-out was still a major inconvenience. Many Canadians rely on Canada Post for everything from cheques to Father's Day cards to birthday presents to credit card bills - you name it, we still mail it. I'd ordered some party supplies online that missed the party because of the strike. Not end of the world stuff, but still a nuisance. And most Canadians - including many New Democrat voters - seem to agree.
So the optics of the NDP fighting to keep the mail from coming likely didn't help them. Not only that, but they were going all out, merely to delay the inevitable. Their filibuster accomplished nothing, other than extending the lock-out.
A lot of pundits have already pointed out how this cements the perception of the NDP as a "pro union" party, but the other lasting effect is that this will likely take some of the punch out of their next filibuster. There's something to be said for valiantly working around the clock to fight for an issue you believe in - but if we see a dozen of these a year, they'll become more nuisance than inspiration. The filibuster should be used to keep an issue in the spotlight when the public agrees with you - not one you're likely to take a political hit on.
So mark this as a loss for the NDP. And what of the Liberals in all of this?
Good question. Welcome to life as a third party.
This pattern could very well repeat itself several times in the coming years. Harper picks an issue where the NDP are outside the mainstream and goads them into action. It makes the Dippers look bad, and marginalizes the Liberals.
Welcome to the new reality. One that couldn't be any more perfect for Stephen Harper.