Some of ILWU Canada strikers in Vancouver (Photo: Facebook).

It was almost two weeks after the trucks rolled into Ottawa and blockaded the Canada-U.S. border at Coutts, Alta., before the leaders of the Conservative Party of Canada began to admit there might be a wee problem with the convoyers’ illegal activities.

Candice Bergen, then the interim leader of the Conservative Party of Canada, joined Ottawa Occupation participants for pizza in Ottawa during the blockade; she said “there are good people on both sides” of the occupation (Photo: Twitter/Justin Ling).

It took less than 24 hours for almost the entire Canadian Conservative ecosystem to start screeching that the legal strike by longshore workers in Vancouver and other B.C. ports must be crushed and crushed immediately lest the entire country be left in smoking ruins. 

What’s with this, anyway?

According to Candice Bergen, who would become interim Conservative leader four days after the occupation of downtown Ottawa began, the convoyers were a bunch of fine fellows, “passionate, patriotic, and peaceful.” (We know now that just before she took over as leader, she’d been privately urging her predecessor Erin O’Toole not to ask the insurrection-minded truckers to go home. “We need to turn this into the PM’s problem.”)

Up to then, Conservative MPs including Ms. Bergen, former leader Andrew Scheer, Garnett Genuis, Michael Cooper, Martin Shields, Warren Steinley, Jeremy Patzer, Leslyn Lewis, Damien Kurek, and Pierre Poilievre, who is now the party’s leader, publicly expressed their support for the blockaders. Messrs. Cooper and Poilievre were videotaped serving coffee and doughnuts to the insurrectionists in Ottawa.

Some United Conservative Party MLAs trooped down to the border at Coutts to support the highway blockade there. 

Pierre Poilievre, now the federal Conservative leader, delivers doughnuts to some of Ottawa’s occupiers in 2022 (Photo: Twitter/Greg Carabine).

By contrast, there have been no confirmed sightings of MPs or MLAs of any party walking the picket line with the striking members of the International Longshore and Warehouse Union Canada. 

Finally, on Feb. 10, 2022, Ms. Bergen began to mildly express some doubts. “The time has come for you to take down the barricades, stop the disruptive action and come together,” she peeped at the protesters, some of whom she’d dined with earlier. “You protested because you love your country and you want your freedoms back. That message has been heard.”

Feb. 10 was a significant date, by the way. It was the day after more convoy protesters closed the Ambassador Bridge at Windsor, closing truck traffic and blocking the shipment of auto parts there between Ontario and Michigan. That prompted Ontario’s Conservative premier, Doug Ford, to change his tune about the insurrection. 

I was reminded of Ms. Bergen’s timid rebuke last night when I re-read Calgary Herald columnist Don Braid’s column about the convoy that was published the same day. “The protesters should listen to their pal Candice Bergen and clear out before they do lasting harm to Canada,” Mr. Braid concluded gingerly. 

St. Albert-Edmonton MP Michael Cooper (Photo: David J. Climenhaga).

In a fire-breathing column about the B.C. strike on July 4, however, Mr. Braid insisted that “the message is universal. This is big economic trouble for Alberta and the country.” If there’s no immediate settlement, he proclaimed, “Ottawa needs to stop it cold.” 

By now, less than a week after the strike began, essentially every right-wing and business voice in Canada has piped up to warn about allegedly devastating consequences of the strike and demand its immediate end. 

Alberta Premier Danielle Smith has called for it to end. Her transport minister, Devin Deeshen, has explicitly demanded federal back-to-work legislation. 

In other words, reaction to the strike is unfolding exactly as predicted in this space on July 4. 

Has Jennifer Johnson’s rehabilitation already begun? 

Alberta Premier Danielle Smith and Lacombe-Ponoka Independent MLA Jennifer Johnson on stage together June 30 at the Ponoka Rodeo (Photo: Alberta Newsroom/Flickr).

Speaking of predictions, it sure didn’t take long for Premier Smith and Jennifer Johnson, the “Independent” MLA for Lacombe-Ponoka to appear happily together on stage at a rural rodeo.

Ms. Johnson salutes the crowd while Ms. Smith applauds (Photo: Alberta Newsroom/Flickr).

Ms. Johnson, of course, was the United Conservative Party candidate waylaid by an unauthorized audio recording that surfaced during the May election campaign of her comparing trans children in school to poop in cookie dough. “It’s that little bit of poop that wrecks it,” she proclaimed. 

Embarrassed by that ugly revelation, which came too late to remove the candidate from the ballot, Ms. Smith vowed that if elected Ms. Johnson wouldn’t be allowed to sit with the UCP caucus. Cynics predicted she would be rehabilitated soon enough. 

The good people of the riding, in their wisdom, elected her regardless. 

A picture of the pair cheerfully applauding at the Ponoka Rodeo was posted to the government’s Alberta Newsroom Flickr account on June 30. Another shot shows Ms. Johnson waving to the crowd with Ms. Smith smiling and applauding in the background. 

The captions on the photo don’t mention Ms. Johnson by name, although in one photo her name tag can be easily read. 

I would suggest there is a pretty obvious message in this presentation: Ms. Smith would like Lacombe-Ponoka voters to know their choice is OK with her. But she would prefer the rest of us didn’t notice. 

As predicted, the rehabilitation of the poop-cookie MLA is proceeding apace.

Join the Conversation


  1. Legal strike vs. illegal blockade: isn’t our premier the one who broke the Conflicts Interest Act? It’s hardly a surprise that a law-breaker would sneer at law-abiders. There are no consequences for the elite who break laws. Laws are for ordinary folks. The peasants should be punished for the audacity of thinking that they deserve raises after inflation eroding their real wages for years. Those high corporate profits that they helped to create are rightly the property of corporations, and Cons would like to see things stay the way they are. Down with uppity workers! Up with entitled elites! See how it works?

  2. While Ms Johnson may not be in caucus, nothing stops her from voting in support of every UCP bill. This will earn her many brownie points and, I bet, a return to the open arms of Ms Smith by Christmas.

  3. The conservatives depend on the exceedingly short political memory of the general public. They depend on it so their hypocrisy goes unseen and unchallenged. Thank you for reminding us all of their ongoing lack of ethics and integrity.

  4. The Ottawa convey didn’t stop anyone from working. And, they want what strikers want, they aren’t there because they rights to free assembly and to work are being infringed upon by Ottawa politics. Kinda humourous you would compare the two. Also, I don’t see the story on the cbc trying to shade the election in favour of the ndp with fake news? Don’t you think you should cover that?

    1. Mr. Larson: You might have a complaint if I were a corporate news organization (with a paywall, perhaps) not a one-man opinion blog. I am not particularly interested in covering exactly the same story as everyone else, especially when it carries a strong whiff of bullshit. I have also found that if I publish two stories in a day, average readership per post goes down, not up, so the business case for trying to cover everything is not a good one. In addition, I have a day job and I’m doing this as a hobby, and in case you missed it, there are only so many hours in a day … 24 if I recall correctly. You’ll be comforted to know that I’ve been asking around as to what the backstory to the CBC retraction is. In the unlikely event I find anything new or interesting, you’ll be sure to read it here. In the meantime, though, my theory is that that CBC’s sources were discovered and recanted under torture. Feel free to make a substantial donation so that I can hire a reporter. DJC

      1. I’m not complaining, I’m needling. And not the creative type of needling either. Always good to see the headliner here and I appreciate that you need stand with the unions in making life unaffordable for Canadians.

        1. Bret: If you won’t make a donation, you’re going to make life unaffordable for me. C’mon, man, pony up! DJC

        2. If you ring a bell, Pavlov’s dog starts drooling.

          If you say “union,” Pavlov’s voter immediately punches himself in the crotch.

          “The libs” you think you’re owning are a lie sold to you by the Tucker Carlson’s of the world. I don’t think I’m the only one who isn’t mad at you, just embarrassed on your behalf and sad at the harm you unwittingly contribute to.

        3. How have unions made life affordable for Canadians?My pensions from union plans have made my life more affordable as a senior.

        1. Thumbs up for that. I think they drive a lot of traffic, which could be a blessing or a curse, not sure how that would break out. Current IP and copyright law conspire to make things that would otherwise be almost free, like software, very expensive. Organizations like photoshop and Microsoft have a lot of nerve to call other people pirates!

          Anyways, I’m not in a position to donate money and won’t be anytime soon. I will say the articles here are consistently more well-researched and -written than 90% of the top 10% of current published/televised “journalists.” I often forget this is a blog operated as a jobby by a guy who has a life. We are getting a very steeply discounted asset here. If journalism wasn’t owned by people actively trying to use journalism to dismantle our society so they could pillage more of it, he wouldn’t have time for this, he’d have, at least, regional prominence.

          1. Neil and Cov-kid , careful with the thumbs up section.
            Right now there is a Saskatchewan farmer who is probably using some choice words for that particular emoji….CTV news Saskatoon–$82,000 thumbs up ‘contract ‘

      2. On the CBC’s retraction, I feel it is a most unfortunate development. I think they oversold their story in January, torpedoeing their journalistic credibility by failing to have the goods. Woodward and Bernstein had multiple sources and saw the documentation of the malfeasance they were reporting on; clearly the CBC didn’t, but they had delusions of being on the same level.

        This is most unwise given the tenor of the times when there is a significant portion of the political class that has a hate on for the Holy Mother Corp, and if they ever form a government you can expect them to go through the CBC’s org chart with a machete. It’s too bad, since the CBC — especially in some of its regional bureaus — still has a tradition of investigative journalism that is lacking in the rest of mainstream corporate media. But on this story, they’ve shot themselves in the foot.

    2. This paragraph needs to be dragged behind the woodshed on the basis of grammar alone.

      The convoy prevented many people from working, it also prevented people from sleeping and the ability to travel freely within their own community. In addition to that, it was an illegal attempt to overthrow the elected government in a time of unprecedented global chaos, and impose the will of a fringe minority on the ENTIRE COUNTRY. In addition to that, much of the money came from the United States, and in addition to that, there are troubling connections to security services on BOTH sides of the border & we likely will never know exactly what happened.

      The fact that you compare that to collective bargaining and or legal strike action, while claiming to support free assembly, and freedom of speech is a pathetic stance taken by muppets. Freedom of speech but not freedom to collectively bargain hey. Whatever. No one is listening to you whine anyway.

    3. CONSERVATIVES: The federal government needs to do something about the affordability crisis!

      ALSO CONSERVATIVES: The federal government needs to prevent working people from legally and peacefully trying to increase their wages!

    4. Brett Larson, Apparently you haven’t talked to anyone from Ottawa who talked about not being able to get any sleep with all the horns blaring, or their children being terrified by what was happening. But in true Reform Party fashion I guess as long as it didn’t effect you you don’t give a damn. The former conservative MLAs I knew when Lougheed’s energy minister Bill Dickie was a brother in-law of one my uncles certainly cared about the well being of the people and they had no respect for you traitors who have deliberately gone against what they stood for and helped these reformers destroy everything they created for us. Maybe you should keep your sarcastic comments to yourself, there is obviously nothing conservative about you.

      1. They also spent months terrorizing the capital city of this province, and anecdotally, to a man, none of them would get out of their big dumb truck and fight me either. Cowards down the line.

    5. Correction: The Ottawa clownvoy, and it’s inbred cousin, the Windsor blockade actually did prevent some people from working. That is a documented fact. The Rideau mall was closed and minimum wage workers were sent home and were sent home unpaid. Get your fact straight.

    6. I’d like to paraphrase a quote by somebody who isn’t me. Ok? Ok.. “The right wing thinks they know everything, but really understand nothing” tm pogo. Why? Personal profit? Check! Power? Check! Stupidity? Check! Herd mentality for the “joy” of gratuitous cruelty? Check! I should like it? Not, so far! PS: Nothing says UCP like poop cookies!

  5. I do feel the Post media gang is an out of touch echo chamber for angry conservatives, increasingly irrelevant and financially struggling. If people beyond this echo chamber actually listened to them, Scheer would have been PM long time ago, Calgary and Edmonton would have had different mayors in the last two elections. Whatever they are trying to sell, including papers, people are increasingly not buying or tuning out.

    Maybe if their latest desperate merger proposal does not go through, they can get the fairly flush Conservative party to bail them out. After all, they are already pretty much the party paper.

    This actually would have been a good time for serious analysis in the media of what freedom and job security really means. A lot of the sympathetic convoy media coverage focused on peoples ability to earn a livelihood and the freedom to protest if that was threatened or impeded. This strike is pretty much about these same things, except it does not involve also wanting to flout public health regulations, disrupting traffic or occupying places with weapons and threats of violence.

    However, in the simplistic post media world, unions are generally bad, so I doubt we should expect any serious analysis from them on this. They have also already laid off most of their more thoughtful staff, the ones that do not toe the party line.

    1. I would say the sympathetic media coverage focused on the bourgeoisie/ small business ownership class. What they lamented was not losing the ability to work, but to make other people work FOR THEM generating profits. It was never about work or workers. Workers are invisible in the press of this country.

    2. If we posit that post media does not attempt journalism, but rather propaganda, their words and actions make much more sense.

  6. Let me also just say, as people howl about the damage the strikers are doing. The “economy” is not for you, me, or the rest of the folks reading this blog. It’s for people with significant amounts of money, to invest, called capital. The economy is a magic genie for capitalists. It’s main concern is profits, not wages. They do not care about us, so damn the economy. Celebrating the economy doing well as an exploited worker is like celebrating an office pizza party instead of a raise and benefits.

    1. The Lac Megantic doc just aired by CBC said something similar about the view that politicians exist to aid the economy, not to impose regulations to keep Canadians safe.
      Sounds like the CPR is just as arrogant, self-serving, and dangerous as the oil industry.

    1. Great video, Just Me. Pee Wee Herman rocks!
      Mr. Cooper as Pee Wee and the charismatic Pierre Polliver playing Mr. Peepers could bring down the house with a rockabilly duet of What Kind of Fool Am I. Women will go wild.

    2. Just Me— So, imo I would avoid ‘any’ theater that either one was going into; though personally I usually think “my precious “, with a helping of Stephen Miller.

  7. Advice to the B. C. Maritime Employers Association. Although you’re rolling in dough since the pandemic, fire your negotiating team. Obviously they’re not empowered to reach an agreement with the I.L.W.U. so why pay them? Get on a plane to Ottawa and do what you do best. Shed crocodile tears about those intransigent strikers and beg the Government to end it. Don Braid and the Postmedia crowd will love you even more.

  8. I just checked the weekday circulation of the Edmonton Journal a bit under 92,000 on weekdays and somewhat under 97,000 on weekends. It’s not clear if these are Metro or total? In event, it means a minority of the population of Edmonton now read it.

    That leaves open the question what influence it has. In my poli sci classes of 40 years ago, it was taught the politically active had newspapers subscriptions. I wonder if that still is true. It doesn’t in my case. I find the analysis in most newspapers trite, superficial and personality based. Think Rick Bell/Warren Kinsella. I find bloggers Bob Ascah, Lisa Young, you David more incisive. Does anyone else have an opinion.

    On the return of the dishonourable member for Ponoka-Lacombe to the UCP caucus , well the party is and will be known for the company it keeps. And Ponoka, if I remember, is the town that had a controversial parade float with a manure spreader and some mannequins of certain federal politicians. That town seems to have an obsession with fecal matter, and character assassination. What does this say of Ponoka and it’s representation?

    1. Former: I would suggest there’s some pretty fancy arithmetic in use in the Journal’s (or someone’s) Wikipedia claim of weekday circulation circa 92,000, unless they’re magically including some Internet subscriptions in that number. In fact, I would be shocked if they’re printing half that many copies, and not all of those would be sold to paying customers. An done off sales don’t usually count as subscriptions either. Regular residential subscribers who used to be the mainstay of metropolitan newspaper circulation? I doubt there are more than 25,000 or 30,000 of them in Edmonton now. DJC

      1. Dave, According to my research there are a bit less than 400,000 homes or dwellings (rental and owned) in Edmonton. It’s not clear to me if this includes the greater Edmonton Area. In any event, I’d forgotten free samplers from the post chain. But assuming your numbers are closer to accurate then maybe 10 to 15% of the Edmonton Population may actually read the horoscope and such like of the Post chain and the other low grade foolishness.

        1. FA: I suspect the true numbers are even lower than my estimate. In 2002, two years after the end of the strike, I visited the Calgary Herald with a delegation from AUPE, where I was by then the communications director. I slipped away from the crowd and ran downstairs to the coffee room, where there was a white board on the wall with the week’s daily press runs on it. The daily runs were about 44,000 that week, according to what I saw. I was shocked, but I have no reason to believe it was inaccurate. Remember, that was before the obits had been written for the newspaper industry and before the Internet roared down upon their business model. DJC

  9. Obviously there are substantial rewards for those individuals who wish to ‘play ball’, or ‘play the game’ i.e., actively promote, defend, and generally act as evangelists for the current economic religion and where “Neoliberal political economy (and decades of neoliberal cultural tropes celebrating capital as the driver of all economic growth and innovation) . . . flipped the Keynesian script, depicting capital as the driver of economic well-being, rather than worker income-qua-consumer spending.”

    The libertarian corporate lobbyist along with the political and academic hacks that she surrounds herself with know that to be concrete factual reality. Most of the swamp dwellers occupying positions in the MSM know that to be the case as well, “being dependent on outside sources of support and those sources of support, such as private wealth, big corporations with grants, and the government (which is so closely interlinked with corporate power you can barely distinguish them). . . “. Realizing also that, “There are all sorts of filtering devices to get rid of people who are a pain in the neck and think independently.”

    On the other hand, playing the game was never an option for the working class individual specifically and labor more generally, as the largely unknown and unacknowledged historical reality unambiguously demonstrates:

    “The labour movement in Canada was born in illegality. Our rights in the workplace, our rights to organize and have access to basic protections and benefits as workers, are the product of working people taking action – oftentimes in the face of repressive laws and physical violence from the state and employers. . . . There is a long record of government’s using unjust laws to repress the power of workers. But workers are far from powerless in the face of unjust laws. The law is not immutable, nor is it a reflection of justice. It is better understood as a reflection of the relative power in society. When employers and the ruling class are feeling confident or threatened by workers they will attempt to use the law to hamper worker power. But the history of unjust laws is the history of workers breaking those laws, and challenging employers and the state.”

    Perhaps the ‘Gilded Age’ and a new golden age for laissez faire is the stuff that libertarian corporate lobbyist dreams are made of:

    “But the Russian Revolution of 1917 had turned public opinion against labor, and the federal government opted not to intervene on behalf of the striking workers. State militias and local police imprisoned strikers, and employers brought in strike-breakers, weakening worker solidarity. In some areas, local police rounded up striking workers from their homes and forced them back to work. After this loss, virtually no union organizing occurred in the steel industry for fifteen years.”

  10. The hypocrisy is so great with these phony conservatives and Reformers. They have rules for themselves, and another set of rules for others.

    1. Authoritarianism in a nuthsell. The unfairness is good if it’s unfair on behalf of the “right” people. Fairness is bad if it doesn’t benefit the “right” people.

    2. From the “great quotes” folder of unknown provenance on my phone…..
      Conservatism: There must be in-groups the law protects but does not bind, and out-groups the law binds but does not protect.

  11. Thank you for the article!
    Sitting here in B.C., every evening the t.v. news has some one on decrying the Longshore strike. Its as if the world is going to come to an end if they don’t return to work and preferably by order of the House of Commons. Lets see so far the talking heads of employer organizations and right wing politicans have advised/suggested:
    The Canadian economy will if not fail, have a massive recession.
    Canada is loosing 5 billion a week due to the strike.
    Small and medium sized businesses will start failing if they don’t get their regular stock from over seas.
    Business will fail because they can’t export.”
    There will be shortages of “things” which will drive up the cost of food, etc and the cost of food is too high as it is.

    I am waiting for one of these professional talking heads to blame the wild fires in B.C. on the Union and the rain storms in the East. Oh, if the praires have another tornado, it will be the Long Shore workers who are also blamed for it

    My question is: If the Longshore Workers are so invaluable to the country, why aren’t they being given the demands they are making. If one group was going to be responsible for a loss of $5Billion each week while they were on strike, the sensible thing could be to give them what they want and include it in a longer term contract. I do believe the American Long shore workers have a new 6 year contract.
    The talking heads from various employer groups do not want a raise or better contract wording because if the Longshore workers get it, so will other workers.
    A new contract for Longshore workers is not what the Fraser Institute and all those other right wingers want in B.C. Let them live on the streets or 4 millenials to a one bedroom apartment or retirees and disabled live in S.R.OS. which the Human Society would close down if farm animals lived in those conditions. As to food, they can go to the food bank.
    As Mom used to say, the rich get richer and the poor get poorer.

    B.C. Long shore workers are looking for a raise and they need it if they are to continue to keep their standard of living. They also are concerned about contracting out and automation. Yes, if they don’t have some imput, they may be out of a job. We have seen what contracting out has done to other industries. Not Good.

    While the talking heads and politicians are all skreetching “the sky is falling in” or the end of Canada as they know it will come, not one of them has mentioned the cost of living in B.C. Of course not. If they did that, others may start talking about how their salaries aren’t sufficient to keep up with the cost of living and the ever increasing number of people going to food banks here. The big one is: housing. Here in Nanaimo a new, average house, is a million, yes it comes with a mortgage helper, but really a million. In Greater Vancouver a house will cost any where from about $700K for bull dozer bait and a two hour commute. A town house, in white rock, South Surrey–$1.2M and yes its 35 years old. A house in Kitsilano–$3M. O.K. the house is worth $35 because its over a hundred years old, the land it sits on is worth $3M. Renting: $750 for the glassed in balconey in a condo, 2 bedroom, for something nice in a decent neighbourhood–$2800 to $3600 a month and to rent a house, its around $3K and up. For a newer home its $4K to $6K.

    1. And yet, a staggering amount of vacant units, and or mostly vacant on air B and B. If it’s anything like the city I live in, it was expensive before, air B and B has made things INSANE and most folks don’t talk about it. A city that outlaws that terrible and exploitative company is one that sees its housing crisis ease overnight.

      1. Agreed, Air B & B’s and others like it have contributed to the lack of housing for individuals and families. It might be best if AirB&Bs were eliminated in areas where there is a shortage of housing. Of course any government who does that, may find themselves out of office.

  12. @Bret Larson.
    IMO you’re doing neither complaining nor needling. You are displaying an immense lack of education of how the real world worked before unions, and the positive changes to workers and their familys’ lives with the growth of unions. I doubt very much that even you would like to be forced to work 12 hr days, 6 days a week, minimum pay, buy your food etc from the company store, watch your children starve, get beaten up by the company thugs if you step out of line, etc, etc. Should you have had the opportunity to have a balanced education and not indoctrination I’m sure you would see things in a much more realistic way. Keep up the good work DJC! (BYT, Bret, I pay to play at Alberta Politics)

  13. I will always remember fondly as the shifting words of Cherokee Dan went from deregulation , less government intervention, dumping environmental studies, rugged individualism and self sufficiency, slashing of programs etc. to regulation of industry, gov oversight of dangers, environmental records, government rebuilding help , government compensation, pre and post having her house flooded in High River.

  14. Slumming it at the rodeo. Do they realize the whole ‘cowboy’ era lasted less than 15 years? Its economic driver was moving cattle and sheep north from Texas across what were then the prairie grass lands of New Mexico, Utah, and Montana, fattening the animals along the way. They were moved to the rail head in Calgary and shipped east to slaughter and live by ship to Britain and Europe. So, in less than 15 years those who employed the cowboys loved the land to death, collapsing that dry grassland ecology into the scrub deserts known and loved today by off-roaders and nuclear test sites.

    The first nations? Why they were hunted down and murdered along with the bison herds by the US Calvary. The genocide was covered up by the Wild West Shows and the movie industry. Towards the end of this orgy of environmental destruction and murder, the US cowboys organized and went on strike several times between 1883 and the implosion of the cattle trade in 1887/88. They were met with the usual American response of bullets, murder, and intimidation by the bosses.

    Of course, up here in Alberta we had the RCMP and the rule of law. However, the packers were in trouble and took to sending their men out to steal cattle from legitimate farmers and ranchers, precipitating the passing of the Brand Act in the 1890s. An Act the PCs failed to enforce during the BSE crisis which allowed the banks to seize cattle being boarded at some insolvent feedlots. But that is another story.

    Ever notice how when a culture is built on lies, as Alberta’s has been since the start of the oil boom, it is like mixing manure in with your cookie dough? Somehow the result is just a little off.

  15. lungta—- re: having her house flooded in High River……
    This got my attention, so quick search; and surprise, not a surprise….violating mandatory evacuation orders= “a rose** by any other name”; or as has been pointed out here many times before: “when someone tells you who they are……”

    There was no pun intended, but wild with thorns somehow seems fitting, imo.

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