VANCOUVER - Kathleen Monk, senior advisor from the Broadbent Institute, told delegates that we must be fearless in our fight against a well-organized and well-funded right wing that wants to reshape Canada.
Monk detailed how the Harper agenda has slashed public services, dismantled environmental regulations, and picked away at Old Age Security. By changing the formula for health care transfers Harper has shortchanged the provinces by $36 billion, opening the door to privatization and two-tier health care.
Monk told delegates that the rise of the right was not accidental. It began with a conference in 1996 that laid the groundwork for greater cooperation between right wing groups like the Fraser and Manning Institutes.
She noted that the right is “beating us at our own game” and that they grow bolder and stronger every day. Rights for workers are being undermined through public opinion campaigns and in legislatures across Canada.
Monk spoke about the bleak picture for workers both in B.C. and nationally with the introduction of legislation lifted from a U.S. playbook. “These pieces of legislation are designed to thin our ranks, reduce our membership, shake our solidarity, and undermine our goals,” said Monk. She noted that public opinion is being manipulated so that the public hears only negative news about unions.
“It’s never been more urgent for progressives to organize and fight back.
“To change our story, we must communicate the positive value of unions with Canadians,” said Monk.
Instead of being defensive, we need to be “positively offensive.” Monk said we must recognize that election campaigns matter. We are just 218 days away from municipal elections and can’t afford to sit on the sidelines. Monk told delegates that every Local needs to get involved.
“At the end of the day, our fight hinges on whether we can build the progressive movement that will challenge these right-wing policies that seek to cut back the vital services you provide every day to Canadians,” said Monk.
“It is only through working together that we can win back public opinion and put an end to the attacks on the very things that have made this country great.”
Monk said we need to organize, fight, and to win. People will drive the movement to create change.
“The stakes are too high and we can’t accept anything less than victory,” said Monk.
When asked who was with her, delegates got to their feet in a standing ovation.