Skip to main content
rod mickleburgh

Everyone loves principles, especially when they can be followed without much inconvenience. It's those darn principles that cost you something that are tough.

Yet Garth Pearce didn't hesitate. The 64-year-old entertainment journalist from ol' Blighty recently forfeited $4,000 in cold cash and a dream train trip through the majestic Rockies to celebrate his 40th wedding anniversary rather than cross a picket line.

In this case, the picket line belongs to the unionized folk who used to provide service on the Rocky Mountaineer, before the company locked them out last June and hired strikebreakers to do their jobs.

Mr. Pearce learned he would have to cross their line, after he had already forked out the money. When he asked for a refund, Rocky Mountaineer refused, and Mr. Pearce swallowed the loss.

Now, that's principle.

"I'm not a strong union man," Mr. Pearce, 64, told Global News. "But I'm a member of the National Union of Journalists … I've never crossed a picket line in my life, and I'm not about to start."

It's interesting to contrast Mr. Pearce's attitude with that of many glitterati in Vancouver, who have been traipsing across the picket line like ticketless transit riders, attending high-roller functions and fundraising gala-gala-dos at the company's cavernous quarters by the rail yards.

The Vancouver International Film Festival went ahead with its opening gala there last fall, as if the locked-out workers' picket line was nothing more than a scene from a forgotten black-and-white movie.

Organizers expressed surprise to learn that their swish party would be picketed. What? There are still unions and picket lines? It's 2012, man. Besides, it was just not convenient to cancel.

While the Teamsters Union agreed not to picket some worthy charity fundraisers at the Rocky Mountaineer venue, attendees at other affairs have had to pass through union pickets.

One of them was singer Sarah McLachlan, a supporter of numerous causes, who appeared at an event to raise money for an eating disorder foundation.

According to the Vancouver Observer, when a picketer depicted Ms. McLachlan as making "no attempt to communicate anything other than indifference" as she crossed the line, the superstar responded on her Facebook page: "I had no idea when I committed to this over six months ago that it was held in such a controversial location."

Oh, those picket lines. So inconvenient.

Two-tone condo

In other news, the city's tallest, most well-known, two-tone lipstick container, otherwise known as the Wall Centre, could be going all black, at long last.

In one of those endearing compromises that resembled nothing so much as Solomon's decision to decide a custody dispute by cutting the baby in two, the Wall Centre had agreed to settle a turn-of-the-century, colour-of-glass wrangle with the city by using both.

So, if you look up, way up, the first 30 stories of the luxury condo development are sheathed in the dark glass favoured by developer Peter Wall. The 18 floors on top have the light-coloured glass demanded by the city.

The result is perhaps the only such high-rise in existence, displaying a quirkiness the great Gaudi himself might have appreciated.

Over the last few years, however, condo owners on the higher floors have complained that the quality of their lighter windows is a pain in the glass, causing all sorts of problems. They want them replaced.

Is this the window of opportunity the darkened-glass people have been waiting for? Stay tuned.

Should the Wall Centre go entirely to black, methinks it would be a shame. Charming idiosyncrasies are all too rare in the architecture biz.

It's an ill wind

We take you now to the choppy waters off English Bay for the highly anticipated legislative regatta. Let's welcome our sailors.

Steering the good ship BC Liberal is none other than Captain Crunch herself, Premier Christy Clark. And … oh dear, it appears that Ms. Clark is the only one racing today. She'll be sailing against herself.

But she gets off to a quick start, steering straight ahead into a mild breeze.… There's a small tack to the left.… Now, she's veering towards the centre.… A stiff wind from the polls is coming up, and the Premier responds with a hard tack to the right.… Now there's a change in the wind, bringing fallout from Alberta.… Ms. Clark is heading back towards the centre.… Now, the ship is being buffeted from all directions. It appears to have stopped completely, unsure which way to go next.

Luckily, the finish line is still a ways off, time enough to remember that left is port, starboard is right, and it's an ill wind that blows nobody any good. Happy sailing.

Interact with The Globe