Quebec Strike Law Antagonizes Business

October 1 st 1983

The Quebec National Assembly recently passed a far-reaching piece of legislation, Bill 17, that prohibits strike-bound companies from using non-union or management personnel to carry on its operations. The Globe & Mail of September 5, 1983 spelled out the ramifications: "Bill 17, in fact, would hand unions absolute control. If they were prepared to stay off the job, and the law forbade their replacement, they could break any company."

Despite strong warnings from Quebec's major business lobby, the Conseil du Patronat, that it will drive business from the province, Bill 17 became effective on September 1. Already Menasco Canada Ltd. of Montreal, an aerospace company on a tight delivery schedule whose operations have been carried out by nonunion and management personnel since its 365 workers were locked out in July 1982, has made arrangements to move to Hawkesbury, Ontario. A CP luxury hotel at Mirabel airport, where the same situation has prevailed since its 130 employees went on strike on 3anuary 1, discontinued its operations on September 1.

Although the Quebec government is anxious to avoid losing business, it appears to be more concerned with placating the province's militant unions. At the same time, the government of British Columbia is attempting to create a healthy climate for business by antagonizing labour. A plague on both their houses.


Harry Antonides came to Canada in 1948, initially working as a farm hand and railway labourer. After over a decade working in a chemical plant in Sarnia, Ontario, Harry joined the newly forming Christian Labour Association of Canada (CLAC) in 1962 as a field representative. By 1970 Harry became director of research and education. In 1974, he was a founding member of the Work Research Foundation (now Cardus) and publisher of their sole publication, Comment magazine. A prolific writer and dynamic speaker, Harry delivered lectures all over North America and published numerous articles, reviews, and essays. He is author of several books on Christianity, labour, and economics, including Multinationals and the Peacable Kingdom (1978) and Stones for Bread: The Social Gospel and its Contemporary Legacy (1985). Harry is retired and lives with his wife Janet in Willowdale, Ontario.