“When will we ever learn …”

As if there isn’t enough trouble in North America nowadays, the following appeared in CBC News, September 7, 2005, under the headline, “N.B. truckers protest gas hikes, clog highways”.

“A truckers’ protest clogged some stretches of the Trans-Canada Highway in New Brunswick on Tuesday. The truckers were slowing down traffic to draw attention to the problem of high fuel costs. The largest protest involved more than 300 truckers on the Trans-Canada Highway between St. Jacques and Edmundston. Traffic there was backed up 15 to 20 kilometres. Drivers coming into New Brunswick were being stopped and asked to sign a petition against high gas prices.

“RCMP Constable Mark Gallagher said police are monitoring the protests, and that some of the protesters may be charged with impeding traffic. Police said that there were at least 10 other locations with about 40 trucks stopped at each location.

“The protest is meant to last for three days, and the group organizing the protest is hoping it will spread across Canada, and into the United States and Mexico.

“Canadian motorists paid a record average of $1.26 per litre of regular gasoline last week. Prices soared across the country in the wake of hurricane Katrina’s damage to the oil and gas industry along the U.S. Gulf Coast. Prices rose 22 cents per litre to the highest average in Canadian history.”

This is deja vu all over again. We reminded our readers in Article 17 of Volume III, that truckers were beginning to flex their muscles. The commentary ended with these words: “Without even being organized, more than 600 truckers protesting poor working conditions were able to generate a slowdown two weeks ago up in British Columbia, and the press, the general public and the Canadian officials all took note of this action. Unlike the truckers who are cognizant of their ability to stymie the operations and flow of goods along the supply chain, the Canadian officials failed to recognize this call for help and refuse to provide relief in any manner. So now the ball is back in the truckers’ court, and Joanne Ritchie, the head of the Owner-Operator’s Business Association in Canada, issued a clear warning. ‘Tax exemptions and rebates are band-aid solutions when what’s needed is open-heart surgery’ she said. The erstwhile runt is now flexing its muscles.”

• That warning back in April was ignored by those who should have known better.
• The summer follow up protest in B.C. was not a “slowdown” but a “showdown”.
• It dragged on for six weeks and dragged down the nation’s economy.
• Although B.C. officials adamantly stated at first that the provincial government could play no part in the dispute, developing conditions demanded some rule-bending.
• To make a long story short, the truckers are getting what they demanded. They’ve won.

Meanwhile the drivers in N. B. have learned the rules of the game and hope this latest protest will “… spread across Canada, and into the United States and Mexico”. [When will we ever learn …]