Volume 94, Issue 27

Wednesday, October 18, 2000


Editorial Board 2000-2001

Unity needed to keep on trucking

Editorial Cartoon

Unity needed to keep on trucking

The brooding and unrest which has recently come as a result of Ontario truckers' concerns over soaring gas prices has many implications for all Canadians.

When approximately 90 per cent of Canada's consumer industry depends on trucks to bring those goods to market, everyone's ears should perk up at the mere rustling of dissatisfaction on the part of the men and women who drive the big rigs.

In the ongoing saga of Canadians' collective chagrin about the high price of gas, truckers' concerns are substantially more acute, considering the overwhelming dependence their take-home pay has on how much they shell out at the gas pump.

After what has seemed like a summer's worth of discontent on the part of truckers, push finally came to shove as they recently came together to protest gas prices by slowing down highway traffic to a crawl in the Whitby and Oshawa areas. The truckers have said the high price of fuel has severely reduced their ability to make a decent wage. Soaring prices, the truckers say, have rendered their ability to make money almost cost-prohibitive.

As protests have drawn much media attention to the truckers' plight, they should be commended for exercising their right to speak up.

Should government step in and enforce a surcharge tax on suppliers to countervail the rising cost of fuel? This would be both inappropriate and unwise. The government's role in this watershed situation should be simply to act as a broker for negotiations.

The province, insistent the industry handle its problems internally, is looking for market forces of supply and demand to even out what has brought the two sides to disagree. Moreover, any fixed surcharge tax might be unfitting if in a year's time the cost of fuel dips or raises considerably.

From what organizers of recent protests have said, the problem for truckers lies partly in the low numbers they have drawn out in support of their cause. The National Truckers Association represents a small fraction of all the truckers on the road – its membership and voice could be magnified so much more if only more truckers would band together in support of one another.

Instead, their cause seems so fragmented, what could be a booming voice representing all truckers comes across as a whimper and a sigh. If truckers really wanted to take the highways hostage, an organized, unionized, large-scale nation-wide protest would be more expedient for their cause.

It's the squeaky wheel that gets the grease. If the truckers can not present a more unified front to voice their side of the issue, then no real short or long term progress can be gained for truckers across the country.

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