George Vair: The Struggle Against Wage Controls Book Review

Essay by sperryUniversity, Bachelor'sA, November 2008

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In 1974, under the Canadian government, Pierre Elliot Trudeau was elected Prime Minister of Canada. At this time the economy was in high inflation; consumer prices were increased which lead Prime Minister Trudeau to campaign against wage controls. A little over a year later, after Trudeau had crusaded against wage controls, the Trudeau government passed Bill C-73 which intended to control inflation in Canada by attempting to manage wages and cost of consumer goods to inhibit rising prices. As a result of the passed legislation, Trudeau and his government went against what was first promised during elections and created the Anti-Inflation Board. Canadian workers felt they were being treated unfairly and that Bill C-73 was criticism directed towards them. George Vair, a labour activist in Saint John, New Brunswick, was one of the many angry Canadians who felt Trudeau was “robbing” them of their collective bargaining rights. George Vair expressed his anger through a quote in his book saying “we were angry, angry as hell that our collective bargaining rights had been taken away at the stroke of Trudeau’s pen.”

In Saint John, New Brunswick, George Vair wasn’t the only working citizen who was upset over Bill C-73; working people all over the city were angered, therefore they united together and organized a one-day general strike initiated by the Canadian Labour Congress. Elected president of the Saint John District Labour Council, George Vair led his committee to achievements against the legislation. Vair and his colleagues faced several struggles while organizing against Trudeau’s wage controls; however their efforts were ultimately both effective and beneficial, which will be conveyed in this essay.

On October 14, 1976, an estimated 12,000 workers of Saint John, New Brunswick joined George Vair and walked off the job to participate in the “National Day of...