As both parties in the definitely non-party like teachers’ dispute struggle to corral a mediator for the thankless task of helping bridge their chasm of bitterness, I found the elusive fellow who first turned down the job in the washroom at B.C. Place for Saturday’s B.C. Lions game.
Now 71, with hundreds of exhausting, round-the-clock, cold black coffee mediation sessions to his credit, from one end of Canada to the other, Vince Ready looked fit as the proverbial fiddle. Turns out he doesn’t get that way by exercising his charm and persuasive ability and the occasional laying on of lumber at the bargaining table. He works out 90 minutes every day! It shows.
I told him I was disappointed he didn’t sign on to work his legendary mediation magic on the teachers’ strike. (After talking separately to both sides, Ready said he was “too busy”….) First, because he might actually have assisted the warring factions towards a peace treaty, but also, because I would have enjoyed the dynamic between Ready and government negotiator Peter Cameron. The two go back a long way, maybe 35 years, to the days when Cameron was a leader of the militant, independent Canadian union CAIMAW, and Ready was a staff rep for the rival United Steelworkers of American, trying to fend off CAIMAW raids. They would long since have made their peace, but sometimes, the mischief in me loves dredging up those fun vicissitudes of the past.
Meanwhile, I would love to tell you what my pal Vince had to say about the teachers’ strike. But there’s that old labour reporter’s maxim: what’s said in the washroom stays in the washroom. Sorry.
And then, the man with the million-dollar smile and all that brow-beating ability had to sit back and watch helplessly while the Lions mucked up their own dispute with the Eskimos.