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I can't blog about this because it doesn't exist

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Here's my favourite obfuscation of the day: "The minister is unable to comment on legislation that does not exist."

That was the line from the Doer government yesterday when my pod-mate Carol Sanders tried to get Labour Minister Nancy Allan on the horn to talk about why the province has no anti-scab legislation. The impetus for the question was a move by Safeway to hire scab workers in advance of an expected strike.

Usually companies hire replacement workers quietly, knowing it's frowned upon by even the most lukewarm union supporter and knowing it exacerbates ill will between union and management.

Not Safeway. They took out quarter-page ads and held a job fair at a Polo Park hotel.

Anyway, that all begs the question - why does an NDP government led by the former boss of one of the province's most powerful unions not have anti-scab legislation? So Carol asked the question the NDP government has probably been asked dozens of times - and got the world's silliest answer: We can't talk about what we haven't done because we haven't done it.

If the government can't talk about hypothetical legislation, then it can't talk about pet bills before they're proclaimed or Plan Winnipeg amendments needed for the IKEA development or changes it wants Ottawa to make to young offender laws.

The funny thing is, Nancy Allan herself probably had a pretty smart, combative and convincing reason why there's no anti-scab legislation - like maybe it's not really needed because strikes are actually pretty rare in the province or a better way to deal with labour strife is through arbitration, not heavy-handed laws.

But cloaking the minister in patently irrational statements when 3,300 workers in the province are about to hit the bricks helps no one.

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