The North Star


Response to “The CSN hires a bum”

The more you screw with people, the more they’ll screw with you

Read Time:4 Minute

Subscribe to our newsletter:

Last week, La Presse published a column entitled "The CSN hires a bum". In it, columnist Patrick Lagacé rants and raves about the union central's "disgusting" hiring of a unionist who allegedly followed home an executive responsible for a work stoppage affecting all the workers at his plant. But who's really at fault here, Mr. Lagacé?

Is it the guy who puts pressure on a multinational giant like Rolls-Royce to defend the workers who elected him? Or the person who imposes a drastic drop in income on hundreds of individuals and families by locking them out, cutting their insurance, and then refusing to let them return to work

Let's take a brief look at this story.

On his way home in April 2022, Jean-Marc Hébert, Director of Labor Relations at the Rolls-Royce plant in Montreal, received a notification on his iPhone that an AirTag was in motion. He found the GPS device under his car. Soon after, hundreds of union members from the locked-out plant arrived in front of his home for a demonstration. 

Of course, Hébert reported the union to the police. The ensuing investigation only confirmed what everyone suspected: it was intentional; it was to track him down.

Image source: CSN

Frédéric Labelle, president of the union, was charged with criminal harassment. He recently pleaded guilty in exchange for a discharge, an obligation to make a donation to a Quebec fund for victims of crime and a sentence of community service. Basically, he "did his time".

But Lagacé still can't get over it. He's "shocked". Why is he shocked? He explains that "even if the labour dispute was explosive, Mr. Hébert was shaken by this demonstration that targeted his residence," which he describes as an "extreme gesture." "His children were traumatized that day. They still are."

Mr. My-Opinion-Is-Important from La Presse thinks that "wrecking a family's sense of security is always, always, always disgusting." While this is not exactly false, we need to get back to basics. Who started it?

When hundreds of families lose their insurance and half their income, this must wreck their sense of security a bit. Because the factory workers were told to stop coming to work, as Mr. Hébert wasn't happy with their demands for improved working conditions. 

But who said that undermining the sense of security of hundreds of people wasn't going to have repercussions? Mr. Hébert and Mr. Lagacé, people's reaction to what you do will always be proportional to the damage you cause them.

The more you screw with them, the more they'll screw with you. The less you listen to them, the more drastic they'll be. If someone is willing to use such radical means as dumping hundreds of people in the mud to win a debate, you can expect the pendulum to swing back.

And we have to accept that Mr. Labelle, as president of his union, led to a real improvement in the working and living conditions of the folks at his plant. He has helped them through some dark times, caused at the outset by a rather too arrogant Jean-Marc Hébert.

And this, especially if he accepts the consequences of his actions, merits that the Confederation des Syndicats Nationaux would hire him to help others through the difficult times that Hébert is sure to bring to hundreds of other workers. 

Besides, it's not as if your industry never makes "questionable" hires...

Mr. Lagacé, we will always be naively amazed at the formidable capacity of columnists to defend and justify the indefensible ... especially when those unjustifiable acts are committed by bosses or senior executives.

Traditional media like yours are great at defending the most rotten members of their leaders' social class, tooth and nail. And sometimes, they don't just defend them: they give them a job. 

Your industry has been a haven for political old-timers, those fallen from grace at the end of their careers thanks to your generous job offers.

Take, for example, such controversial figures as Ana Bailão and John Tory in Toronto, Monte Solberg in Alberta, Thomas Mulcair in Quebec, right up to the most corrupt like Nathalie Normandeau, who escaped trial for criminal conspiracy thanks to the Jordan ruling. All of these characters have found in your studios and newsrooms a haven of rehabilitation.

Nathalie Normandeau with Philippe Couillard. Image source: François Thivierge

And what can we say about your industry's mania for creating and offering platforms to those who ardently defend the interests of the rich, as opposed to the people? Allow me to remind you of a certain Conrad Black, who only rose to his position in the media through being born a millionaire and is now mainly famous for being the only multi-millionaire to have gone to prison since who knows when. 

When it comes to the real champions of giving jobs to bums with delusions of grandeur, let's just say that the CSN could take notes from your industry. And we'll leave it at that... 

Support journalism going against the tide ← To help North Star continue to produce stories from the majority's perspective and in the majority's interest, make a donation! Every contribution matters.