Message on behalf of business manager Mike Gallagher: For many of our members, waking up to a Liberal minority government may have come as a surprise. The federal campaign was particularly acrimonious between the two main political parties Andrew Scheer’s Progressive Conservatives and Justin Trudeau’s Liberal government. The result of the election was difficult for […]
Message on behalf of business manager Mike Gallagher:
For many of our members, waking up to a Liberal minority government may have come as a surprise. The federal campaign was particularly acrimonious between the two main political parties Andrew Scheer’s Progressive Conservatives and Justin Trudeau’s Liberal government.
The result of the election was difficult for anyone to predict, although the polls from the beginning to the end of the 40-day campaign more or less ended the way they started – with a virtual tie between the two main parties.
Some surprises did come about, including the defeat of Maxine Bernier and the dismal showing of the People’s Party of Canada. From my perspective, that was a good thing because of its anti-immigration, non-inclusive populous message. Populism is what brought Donald Trump to power south of the border. Whatever your opinions are, it’s the government that’s non-efficient and seems to be up to its neck in scandals from one day to the next. It’s not a pretty picture and all of us should be grateful to be in a parliamentary, stable democracy.
It also had to be a disappointing night for the Green Party, even though they tripled their seat count from the last election – from one MP to three. Having said that, it remains a party that many people share the environmental message that is their mainstay. The question is, can they run capably into areas of vital importance, which is the economic wellbeing of the country?
Canadian’s obviously don’t think so. Not at this point, at least.
Another interesting result from the election was the Bloc Québécois. They were able to block any Conservative momentum in Québec, stole Liberal seats, and nearly wiped out the NDP in the province. It showed how divided we are with the revival of the Bloc. The Bloc took support from the other parties, particularly the Liberals and Conservatives in Quebec, to rise in support of sovereignty to levels not seen since the days of Jean Chrétien as prime minister.
It was unsettling to hear such nationalist language in the victory speech delivered. Most Canadians, and I would include Quebec in that, do not wish to be dragged down that path.
For Local 793 specifically, it was disappointing to hear the anti-pipeline messages. Bloc leader Yves-François Blanchet said the party would vigorously oppose any attempt to pass a pipeline through Quebec.
On the other side, we see the resurgence of western alienation. The Conservatives took back the four seats in Alberta they lost to the Liberals in 2015 and swept all of Saskatchewan. Two Liberal seats in the suburbs around Winnipeg also fell to the Conservatives. In the province of British Columbia, the Conservatives also made minor gains while the Liberals stumbled.
Calgary major Naheed Nenshi was on the CBC panel Monday evening and he elegantly pointed out that it doesn’t signify Albertans are permanently on the right of the political spectrum. Rather, they are frustrated from the economic challenges of the oil and gas industry.
Prime minister Trudeau just can’t ignore the situation in Quebec or in Western Canada, which he acknowledged in his acceptance speech. He heard the message and pledged to work towards uniting the country. That will be his biggest challenge.
I would like to acknowledge that our members had strong opinions and have been frustrated with the Trudeau government. Various political scandals, ethics violations and multiple incidents of blackface to the onerous Bill C-69, dubbed the “no more pipelines bill.” I share some of these frustrations, as do other business managers across Canada. Unfortunately, the Conservatives have alienated any chance of support from labour by continuing to pander to their anti-union base.
In our view, there’s no point going from the frying pan into the fire. We will continue to work with the Liberal government with what will be to the benefit to the union’s members and families. For example, investing in infrastructure. The Conservative Party’s platform was not good for jobs, which was to reduce infrastructure spending by $18 billion over the next five years.
The area of a national pharmacare program, which both the Liberals and NDP supported, needs to be universal. While active members and select retirees who have a retiree plan pay for and have a good prescription drug plan, they remain vulnerable when out of work for any length of time. A universal pharmacare program would make sure nobody amongst our members falls through the cracks and they will always be able to get the prescriptions needed.
It would also save our benefit plan a considerable amount of money, which would help to keep our plan affordable. We will support, as we have been, for a universal pharmacare plan.
In areas of training, the Liberal government has been supporting operating engineers training institutes across the country. We will be seeking an extension of that support with this minority government. We will press for all federal projects across Canada to be union built by our members as opposed to non-union or CLAC. Wherever there is public funding provided, those jobs should be union since it is our members who best support the economy of this country by investing in pension and benefits plans.
The challenge is not over for prime minister Trudeau. He must cobble together a coalition or an accord with NDP leader Jagmeet Singh and their 24 seats. Trudeau needs 170 votes to pass legislation.
His first challenge will be his speech from the throne. The next challenge will be the budget, which if defeated, would lead to another national election.
Minority governments by their nature are not as stable as majority governments. But they are appealing because the governing party must cooperate in order to get their agenda into legislation. Most Canadians, myself included, would not like to see another costly election within the first two years of the new mandate.
In conclusion, you can’t please everybody, but we have a new government that we can work with on a number of fronts. We will not be facing right-to-work type legislation inspired by the Conservative friends and Republican friends to the south. We can do things our way – the union way. The threat of anti-union governments, either provincially or federally, is never too far away so we will have to remain vigilant.