Tomorrow the Quebec government and lawyers on the public payroll, who launched a strike two days ago, will sit at the table before a mediator.
The last time round, when government lawyers negotiated with the Conseil du tresor, the government body that controls the purse strings, only minor issues were settled over the course of six sessions with a mediator, Marc Lajoie, head of the Association des juristes de l’État (AJE), told me.
Quebec Crown prosecutors never even got that far. They negotiated with the help of a conciliator, someone with less powers to forge an agreement than a mediator.
Crown prosecutors want above all binding arbitration. It’s something that they wanted for years, to no avail. They were granted the right to strike by the provincial government in 2003 — something they never asked for and never wanted, said Christian Leblanc, head of the Quebec crown counsel association (APCPPQ).
With the government offering a salary increase of nine per cent, and public sector lawyers seeking a 40 per cent increase, it remains to be seen whether a mediator can bridge the wide gulf.
The strike is beginning to have an impact. At least four individuals in three different cases have been acquitted since the strike began two days ago, and the walkout appears to be the culprit. A Toronto man facing speeding charges was acquitted as were two men accused of theft, and a 41-year old woman accused of attempted murder. The Directeur des poursuites criminelles et pénales, the government body that oversees Crown prosecutors, is contemplating appealing.