Site Administrator Of:

Supporter Of:


Olive: Time to play hardball with Caterpillar (but you can bet the Conservatives won’t)

Here is a very hard-line piece from David Olive today in the Star about what the Canadian government should do about Caterpillar – a tone I’m not used to seeing Olive, the Star’s business columnist, come out and write in his pieces, so he’s obviously ticked off:

We could nationalize EMD, for which there is abundant precedent across the continent. America’s third-largest bank, biggest insurer and dominant home-mortgage guarantors are now wards of the state. Short of nationalization, Ottawa could impose prohibitive tariffs on all Cat products. That might eventually bring Athabasca tarsands production, heavily reliant on Caterpillar equipment, to a halt. Which would be a useful topic of discussion between Barack Obama and Caterpillar CEO Doug Oberhelman, since Athabasca is America’s largest source of imported oil. Yes, the tariffs could be contested as an alleged violation of World Trade Organization rules. But then, it’s Cat alone that has consistently acted in bad faith.

Caterpillar likes to play hardball. So let’s play hardball.

You can be almost guaranteed the Harper government won’t touch nationalization with a 60 foot pole.  How about the others? I’m not inclined to think Harper and company will do a darn thing. They’re too busy trying to kiss and make up with China, who they’ve alienated for several years now, and only because they’re trying to find a new market for their tarsands oil. Meanwhile, Caterpillar is raiding Canadian intellectual property and patents made by a former Canadian company and whisking them away, (as others have done before) throwing our folks out of work in the process, while this government does nothing – particularly galling in this case because Harper was in this plant in 2008 waving his corporate tax cut for the company around bragging about how it would be good for business in Canada and for London Ontario.

The only thing Caterpillar used that for apparently, was to add to their tally sheet of their billions made in profits, and made our government look like suckers in the process. You can bet that they will be too ideologically bound to their economic philosophy to care. I’d not be surprised to see them say that Canada needs similar “right to work” legislation up here in order to compete with Indiana and other states.






29 comments to Olive: Time to play hardball with Caterpillar (but you can bet the Conservatives won’t)

  • Stan

    Still haven’t figured out that it wasn’t Cat that got the tax breaks?
    Hint, they bought the plant in 2010, 2 years after Harper’s famous visit…

  • Fred from BC

    Not sensitive at all, just amused by your childishness (did I not make that clear enough?).

    When faced with facts that prove you wrong, you resort to sarcasm and ‘snark’ like a teenage girl would do. So tell me about all about my opinions, then…how do I feel about abortion, for example? Capital punishment? Marijuana? Go ahead…show me how well you “know my opinions on pretty much everything”. I’ll wait.

    (oh, and I have never seen or read anything by Sun News here in BC, sorry)

  • Fred from BC

    Nope, not hurt. You can’t tell me anything I don’t already know about your opinions on pretty much anything.

    That’s nice. Maybe you don’t quite understand how these blog posts work, then. In a public forum like this one, everything you say can be read and commented upon by anyone here. If you don’t want someone else commenting on your posts, you have the option of either not posting anything or using email to post your messages privately. Hope this helps…

    • Beerbob

      I don’t mind anybody’s opinion. Including yours. It doesn’t have the least effect on mine, unless I see some evidence that I am in error. Is it that you didn’t understand what I meant in responding to you? When I said I wasn’t talking to you, that’s exactly what I meant. I am talking to you now, though. How are you enjoying it? Are you glad you took up the defense of the Sun readers and the Cat management (whom the Canadian business community is looking at with some considerable contempt right now) in this? Is it making your day better? What’s more, have you got the slightest idea that what you think is going to have any effect at all in this matter?

      Why so sensitive? Have you gotten used to getting your own way? Or just the old knee-jerk “unions bad thing” that’s so very evident in the opinions of Sun readers?

  • Beerbob

    Nope, not hurt. You can’t tell me anything I don’t already know about your opinions on pretty much anything.

  • Al

    Caterpillar DID receive TAX breaks and incentives,no one said subsidies.Which explains the Ontario MP’s and Federal Opposition MP’s demanding that Caterpillar repay the tax breaks.
    There isn’t a business in Canada that does not receive tax incentives and most that do don’t treat their employees as shabbily as Caterpillar.

    • Beerbob

      Hey, Al – two days and no response from the Sun News crew. Guess you made the point, and there’s not much comeback. Well done.

      • Fred from BC

        What “Sun News crew” would that be? I don’t see anyone from Sun News posting here, do you?

        I see a guy who confused laborers/janitors with skilled trades, confused a strike vote with a vote on the offer presented and tried to counter widespread allegations of a “5 million dollar corporate tax cut” (by the original author of the article, as well as many others) by bringing up the the normal tax incentives that every company receives.

        At this point, no one feels the need to embarrass him any further, I’m guessing.

        (that’s called ‘maturity’ by most. Or ‘class’, if you like…)

        • Beerbob

          I wasn’t taking to you. Not really interested in what you think.

          • Fred from BC

            I wasn’t taking to you. Not really interested in what you think.

            I see. You toss out a childish insult referring to the “Sun News Crew”, but get all butt-hurt when someone throws it back in your face? You could probably use a thicker skin (or maybe a bit of that maturity I mentioned above)…

  • Fred from BC


    @stan and Fred
    “Why didn’t the union counter offer?”

    Ever heard of good faith bargaining? Obviously Caterpillar hasn’t.

    Perhaps not, but that doesn’t excuse the union from not allowing their members to at least vote on the offer. It also doesn’t justify the original post, which not only calls for nationalization (oh, please…what are we, a banana republic?) or government intervention (almost as bad for our international reputation) but repeats the ‘corporate tax cut’ LIE (yes, LIE) just for the opportunity to take a cheap shot at Stephen Harper; Caterpillar didn’t receive ONE DIME from the government, and that fact was revealed almost immediately after the initial accusation was made (by the union, no doubt).

  • Al

    @stan and Fred
    “Why didn’t the union counter offer?”

    Ever heard of good faith bargaining? Obviously Caterpillar hasn’t.

  • stan

    Why didn’t the union counter offer?
    They were expecting a political solution, they wanted the taxpayers to bail them out.
    Harper didn’t blink.

    Why else would the union not counter offer?
    The union just wanted to screw the taxpayers again, but their little plan failed.

    • Beerbob

      They were expecting Harper to help them? That’s absolutely hilarious! I don’t think the Sun would have tried to make even their lowest information readers buy that one.

      If you’re going to try to needle people, it’s better if it results in them getting pissed off. Not laughing at you. It takes a slightly more delicate touch. Well, in this case, a much more delicate touch!

  • Beerbob

    Why bother going through the game of making ridiculous lowball salary offers when the employment contract comes due? Why not just close it down, if that’s what they were going to do anyway? It just seems strange. The people running these sorts of businesses don’t do things like that for no good reason. Did they think that they could get skilled workers for not much more than Timmy’s pay? It’s weird.

  • Al

    @ Stan,
    There was a strike vote
    Globe and Mail Feb 6 2012

    The company at best paid lip service only to the concept of collective bargaining. Of course it was going to fail at the bargaining table, which you’d expect when you’re demanding wage cuts of up to 50 per cent.
    There was no mediation in the dispute, according to the union. Months ago, there was conciliation, which resulted in what is known as a no-board report, part of the process leading to when companies can legally lock out and when unions can strike.
    The union took a strike vote much later and, said Bob Orr, assistant to the CAW president, offered to continue to work under the same pay and conditions while meeting with a mediator, a third party who attempts to settle labour disputes

    • Fred from BC

      There was a strike vote

      Which is not the same thing as a vote on the offer.

      Let me guess…long-time union member?

    • stan

      As Fred said, a strike vote is not the same as a vote on the contract offer.
      The union wanted a taxpayer bailout, like they got at GM and Chrysler.
      They didn’t want Cat to pay, they wanted the taxpayers to pay.

      It’s the standard socialist greed model where the rich union members want the poorer non-unionised taxpayers to play reverse Robin Hood to them.

      The 32 bucks an hour labourers made far more than the average person in Canada but they wanted the people with much lower incomes than them to pay for their luxurious lifestyles.
      This looks good on the greedy socialist fools.
      I wonder if they learned anything?

  • stan

    Nice to see you quote the idiots at the star, who don’t seem to understand that if their boycott worked, (which it wouldn’t, there are other manufacturers of mining equipment), all it would do is result in Canada shutting down social programs that the oil sands pay for.
    Or didn’t they think of that?

    Was that the whole point of that rag’s article?
    Trying another tactic to shut down the oil sands?
    And too stupid to understand what the oil sands pays for in Canada?
    Which social program would you shut down first?

    Again, thanks for the laughs, I always head here when I need a good belly laugh!

  • stan

    Harper didn’t give Caterpillar one dime, once again you have made the mistake of believing the idiot liberal media.
    Once again they made you look like an equal idiot.

    “EMD never received any subsidies from the federal government; certainly not since Caterpillar bought it. Indeed, looking through the hundreds of pages of “grants and contribution” in the Public Accounts, it may be the only company in the country that didn’t. The Harper visit to which Olive refers was to promote a tax break for the purchasers of locomotives, not the manufacturers. The visit occurred in 2008, two years before the Caterpillar purchase.”

    Thanks for the laughs, as usual!

  • Roll Tide

    Tariffs, and Nationalization. Nice tough talk. Warlike! Lets be like Chavez, and turn to the Iranians for foreign investment . That would ruin our tax base (Athabasca oil sands), and
    turn us into a banana republic.

    1. It was never “our company”, it was always American owned.
    2. We had “taken” those jobs away from the Americans years ago.

    Read what this Ignatieff voter found out after he dug up some truth.


  • Fred from BC

    The union tried to play hardball when they refused to let their members vote, and they have now paid the price (although no one ever seems to point out the fact that the union executives are never in danger of losing *their* high-paying jobs, only the poor saps who actually work for a living and pay their union dues monthly). Paying laborers and janitors 34 dollars an hour is ridiculous, and the thought that the government of Canada could (or should) intervene is equally daft. Economic reality strikes again, I’m afraid…

    • Al

      @ Fred from BC. Caterpillar never had any intention to remain open when they are receiving huge incentives to bring jobs back to the USA under Federal legislation passed by the Obama administration. You’re the sap if you believe otherwise.And no, $34 an hour is not too much to pay skilled tradesmen like millwrights and welders. Calling them simple laborers in an insult.Do a little research…

      • stan

        The union never counter offered because they are still thinking Harper will bail them out like he bailed out the autoworkers.

        Labourers were making $32.50/hr, and $34/hr is what the tradesmen were offered in the new contract.

        The union leaders voted for a 100% pay cut for their members, I wonder what the tradesmen would have voted, if they had been given the chance….

      • Fred from BC

        And no, $34 an hour is not too much to pay skilled tradesmen like millwrights and welders. Calling them simple laborers in an insult.Do a little research…

        I did. That’s how I know that the tradesmen were making $41-43 before, and were being asked to cut *back* to $34. The laborers/cleaners were making $32-34, and were being asked to cut back to $16-18 (a much more reasonable rate for that).

        Yes, they were looking for an excuse to close that plant (which the union conveniently gave them). So what? They are a business, not a charity.

  • Jon

    This is Canada. We don’t take back what’s ours when foreign powers lie to us, break their side of the agreement and in general act in bad faith. We take over and wreck what Canadians have a stake in instead. Like destroying income trusts. Or nationalizing the Wheat Board. Or giving up and paying off instead of fighting spurious NAFTA challenges.

    If we let foreign interests walk all over us enough, then maybe they’ll stop hurting us…

  • Mark McLaughlin

    Nationalizing industry and annexing private property? Where are we, Venezuela? As for the oilsands angle; punishing one industry for the sins of another makes zero sense.

    How can a government encourage investment with a track record of flying off the handle and punitively damaging individual companies when they don’t like an executive decision?

    Absurd from start to finish.

    PS. I don’t know what kind of work these employees do but comparing it to “high-skill work akin to auto-making” is silly. Most auto-workers sit on an assembly line installing the same couple of parts over and over again. When machines took over the hard stuff all that was left was the menial tasks. Why do you think the American car companies went through the sh!tter. You can’t pay the “light bulb” guy what a non-unionized accountant makes.

    • marie

      Ever worked in a shop like caterpillar? Do you even know what or what are not high skilled jobs? Do you consider your job a high skilled job? I believe there is more to those jobs that you people seem to want to disregard. Likely applied for a job somewhere and was turned down for lack of experience and capability.

      Unless you’ve been there, no comments such as yours should even be published. I beleive you know not what you speak of.


unique visitors since the change to this site domain on Nov 12, 2008.