Monday, January 02, 2006

Haggard got $81,000 from taxpayers between campaigns

VICTORIA - Dave Haggard turned out to be one of the fainter star candidates on the Liberals' BC Dream Team in 2004, coming third in the election.
But all was not lost. Months after the vote, the federal cabinet government hired Haggard on a $9,000-a-month contract to write a report on apprenticeship. The former IWA union head was paid $81,000 between January and October, and then started to prepare for another run as a Liberal candidate in tis election.
It all shows quite breathtaking contempt for the public.
The Liberals recruit a candidate and parachute him into a riding. The voters reject him, and the Martin team uses taxpayers' money to pay him until it's time to try again, in a different riding.
No patronage or payoff here, says Haggard. Just the happy coincidence that he was the best person in Canada to prepare a report on apprenticeship issues. The pay - $108,000 on an annual basis - wasn't that great, less than he used to make as IWA president, he adds.
Haggard told the Vancouver Sun he did a first-rate job, talking to 275 stakeholders and delivering his report to Human Resources Minister Belinda Stronach. You can't actually judge how useful or necessary the report was, because it hasn't been released. Haggard blames the bureaucracy and Stronach's inexperience for the delay.
The whole affair leaves two questions. Do the Liberals think we're stupid? Or has the Martin team just decided that it doesn't matter what they do, as long as they can convince people that Stephen Harper and the Conservatives would be worse?
It's simply insulting to claim that politics and patronage weren't involved. The study could have been done by government employees. The work could have been awarded fairly, going to the best, most experienced contractor. Instead it went to a failed Liberal candidate, one the Liberal wheels in the province had wooed.
The decision to recruit Haggard for the Dream Teams shows how far out of touch the Liberals are. He's apparently supposed to help them woo leftish voters from the NDP, especially people with strong union sympathies.
But most people interested in a strong and democratic labour movement see Haggard and the IWA as partners with the provincial Liberal government in attacking unionized health care workers.
The BC Liberals wanted to privatize support services in hospitals and care homes. They thought the workers were overpaid, and that the best way to deal with the situation was to fire them - after using legislation to remove all job protection from their existing union agreements - and contract the work out to private companies which would hire new workers at lower wages, with poorer benefits and no protection.
But the health authorities that had to execute the plan were still worried. The private companies might be able to hire people at 30-per-cent lower wages. But then those employees might decide to join join a union -- perhaps even join the HEU -- and seek higher rates.
Haggard and his union saved the day for the employers. The IWA sat down with the three main companies bidding for the privatized work and - before employees were hired - agreed to contracts that provided low wages and few benefits. Job applicants had to sign an IWA membership card if they wanted a job interview.
The IWA got a big jump in dues revenue, including some unprecedented payments. The companies got contracts that they liked.
The employees got the shaft. They were denied the right to decide if they even wanted a union, or which one it should be. They were locked into an agreement they never approved, paying dues to a union they never chose.
Haggard and the IWA, now part of the United Steelworkers, were scorned by most people in the union movement for betraying the employees' rights. It hardly makes him an appealing candidate.
The Liberals didn't get that, just as they didn't get that the $81,000 contract for a failed candidate was simply wrong.
Footnote: Haggard stands little chance of success. He's running against New Democrat Libby Davies, who won by almost 13,000 votes in 2004. Former provincial cabinet minister Joyce Murray is carrying the Liberal banner in New Westminster, where Haggard ran last time and is given a good chance of success.


Anonymous said...

Folks always complain how Labour had the NDP in their pocket.

Haggart seems to have the LIberals in his. Libby will wipe the floor with him, but why should he worry. Next job will pay more working for some trumped up job for the Liberals. My God do they never learn. Failed candidates should go somewhere else for a job.

Anonymous said...

Is Haggard really dumb or does he just sound that way?

Horny toad