Commentary
Oct 18, 2019

Why we’re with Jagmeet

The federal election on October 21 offers working people an opportunity to cast their ballot for an unambiguously pro-worker and pro-union leader and political party: Jagmeet Singh and Canada’s NDP. That would be the best answer to Justin Trudeau who, as Liberal leader in 2015, campaigned on an ostensibly progressive agenda but ended up delivering nothing of the sort as prime minister.

In the four years he’s been in office, the Liberals have either broken, delayed or outright abandoned many of their most fundamental promises to working people and their families. Remember how many times Trudeau claimed that the 2015 election would be the “last Canadian election ever fought under First Past the Post,” and that his government would bring in electoral reform? Well, you know the result.  This coming election is being fought under the same outdated system. In other words, Trudeau lied to you.

Promises made, promises broken

Trudeau and his government have fallen far short of their promises to fight climate change, leaving Canada well down the list of countries that are taking action to reduce emission. What’s more, his involvement in the SNC Lavalin scandal puts the lie to his claim that the Liberals would be ethical and govern according to the rule of law. It’s a Liberal party tradition: they campaign as progressives, then govern like Conservatives.

The Conservatives replaced former Prime Minister Stephen Harper with Andrew Scheer, who some have described as being “Harper with a smile.” The problem is, it’s the same old hard-right Conservative party that Harper built. Scheer will tell you that he’ll cut your taxes and put more money in your pocket, but the reality is the same old story: it’s the richest Canadians and the biggest corporations that would enjoy the benefit of Conservative tax cuts, while the rest of us would see funding slashed for health care and other important social programs.

Let’s remember that the Green Party is no friend of working people or progressives, either.  Here in B.C., we’ve seen the three-member Green caucus stop the BC NDP government from making it easier for workers to organize or join a union to improve their lives.  And federal leader Elizabeth May even tolerates anti-choice Green candidates who oppose current laws respecting women’s reproductive rights.

In my mind, the clear choice for workers is the NDP and Jagmeet Singh. The clever rebranding of the party initials as a “New Deal for People” has the potential to broaden the NDP’s base and appeal to a new generation of voters who have no interest in the establishment parties. And that “New Deal” is much more than a campaign slogan - the proof is right there in the party platform, which you can read at: https://www.ndp.ca/commitments.

Getting out the vote

As the main feature (pages 10-13) for this issue of Public Employee makes clear, there’s a lot at stake on October 21. And there’s a lot you can do as members to help elect CUPE candidates—including CUPE’s own Laurel Collins (Local 4163) in Victoria and Randy Anderson-Fennell (Local 728) in Delta. CUPE BC has been working hard with our Locals and District Councils to identify CUPE members who want to get involved, providing them with the necessary training, and connecting them to local campaigns to volunteer. If you’re interested in helping out in the final days before the vote, please contact our election coordinator, Steven Beasley, at sbeasley@cupe.ca.

While the odds of an NDP victory may be long, let’s not forget that most commentators and pundits had written off Jack Layton’s campaign throughout most of the 2011 election—but on Election Day, Layton’s team won the most seats in NDP history and formed the Official Opposition. As Jack was fond of saying, “Don’t let them tell you it can’t be done!”

CUPE BC is the largest union in British Columbia, representing more than 97,000 workers delivering important public services in nearly every community in the province.

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