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Air Canada slaps union with labour-board complaint

Air Canada jets sit on the runway at Toronto's Pearson airport in 2009.

Fred Lum/Fred Lum/The Globe and Mail

Air Canada has opened a new front in its battle with the Canadian Union of Public Employees, just hours after its flights attendants cancelled a planned strike for now.

The company filed an unfair labour practices complaint to the Canadian Industrial Relations Board on Wednesday night – another tactic aimed at muddying the waters for CUPE, which represents Air Canada's 6,800 flight attendants.

A senior airline source says the complaint suggests the union was bargaining in bad faith as the negotiating team told the company it would get the last deal ratified. It did not and the membership rejected the deal.

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The complaint adds that the union said it knew what their membership wanted – but clearly it was wrong. The company is left wondering whether the union was simply "stringing us along," according to the source.

The labour board has a number of options in dealing with the complaint, including agreeing with Air Canada and ordering the union to accept their last offer without any changes.

The Air Canada complaint went to the same board that Labour Minister Lisa Raitt referred her case to, which pre-empted a planned strike at midnight by making it illegal.

Though CUPE's bargaining committee called the move "outrageous interference by the Harper government," flights were running on time Thursday morning since attendants were told by their union to go to work.

Chow brings Layton's message to cancer conference

In public, Olivia Chow says she is managing very well. Privately, however she has "spectacularly sad moments."

The Toronto MP and widow of NDP leader Jack Layton says: "It goes up and down, in waves."

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And she's hoping Thursday that she'll be able to get through an emotional but hopeful speech she is delivering in Halifax to about 200 delegates at the Prostate Cancer Canada Network leaders' conference.

Mr. Layton died in August of an undisclosed cancer; he had been fighting off prostate cancer before the May election in which he led New Democrats to Official Opposition status for the first time in their history.

The final words he penned to Canadians before his death – "hope is better than fear" – are the theme of Ms. Chow's keynote address.

And in her speech she plans to repeat some of what Mr. Layton wrote, especially the part in which he encourages others suffering with cancer not to be discouraged "that my own journey hasn't gone as well as I had hoped."

And Ms. Chow emphasizes the importance of early detection. "When he was diagnosed, he was relentless in pushing people to be tested," she will tell the delegates. "You all know the important early detection is. Jack knew it. And thanks to his example – and your example – two of his close friends who were quite young got screening and were diagnosed."

Both are in remission, she noted.

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Support is key, too, to fighting the disease. She says her husband was able to get advice on diet and exercise, which helped him live productively after his diagnosis.

"He worked, and he had fun. He achieved a lot. And he ran a great campaign – connecting with people in an amazing way," she will tell the audience.

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About the Author
Ontario politics reporter

Jane Taber is a reporter at Queen’s Park. After spending three years reporting from the Atlantic, she has returned to Ontario and back to writing about her passion, politics. She spent 25 years covering Parliament Hill for the Ottawa Citizen, the National Post and the Globe and Mail. More

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