Opening Statement



Tuesday, 5 August 2014

TYLC: After the 2014 Ontario Election?



Summer is here and the living is easy. Most minds have not yet turned to this fall when our teacher unions meet with the new Liberal majority government to negotiate your next contract. This statement from the TYLC [Toronto York Labour Council] succinctly analyses the situation and provides a lot of food for thought for those of you who wish to stay ahead of the curve on the possible issues and problems faced. I am reposting it here on my blogsite for your information and consideration.

First, with Kathleen Wynne we possibly have the most progressive Premier yet in Ontario history. Unfortunately the Liberal party governs from the right of centre. How will the new Liberal majority government approach Labour issues and negotiations? Secondly, what to do about the NDP? The parties unsuccessful election campaign abandoned it's traditional labour base to pander to a populist agenda. It's platform even included some quite right wing overtures in a failed effort to try broaden its base support. Whiter too the NDP from a labour point of view?



Remember: ETFO, OSSTF + OECTA units are all members of the Ontario + TYLC.

Hmmmm. Consider the following TYLC "Statement". Comments are welcome below:

The 2014 provincial election delivered a crushing defeat to the Ontario
Conservatives, a surprising majority to the Wynne Liberals, and left a deep sense
of unease among New Democrat activists in Toronto. But first and foremost, it
showed that labour’s efforts to stop Tim Hudak’s agenda were successful, and
that the hard work by thousands of union members over the last eighteen months
paid off.

It is easy to forget that our first obligation as a union movement was to avert the
total disaster that would unfold if Hudak had become Premier. We only have to
look south of the border to see what damage that would have done to workers
and their unions. The people of Ontario rejected Hudak's attempt to import
extremist Tea Party politics from U.S., especially the concept of cutting 100,000
public service jobs. The Conservatives lost nearly every urban seat, and their
leader forced to resign.

However other aspects of this election give reason for concern. In Toronto, the loss
of Prue, Schein, and Marchese is a real setback. There was a massive loss of
volunteers for NDP incumbent campaigns due to anger about Andrea Horwath’s
message and direction. People were shocked that Horwath triggered the election
with dozens of ridings having no candidates, and a platform that demoralized
much of the traditional NDP base. Those losses will impact in politics in Toronto for
years to come.



On the other hand, Wynne ran a brilliant campaign – echoing many of labour’s
policies while downplaying the austerity aspects of her budget. Kathleen Wynne
connected to many Toronto voters with a program that sounded both progressive
and pro-labour. It will not be a surprise to find the Liberal majority acting much
differently than the image created for the election campaign. Labour must focus
our efforts now to ensure the positive parts of their platform are implemented,
and fiercely resist the austerity policies embraced as soon as the election dust
settled.

As a party that fundamentally takes its direction from Bay Street, the Liberals will
soon disappoint on many fronts. The Ontario Federation of Labour is taking a
labour agenda to the new government - to demand action on labour law reform,
poverty wages and corporate taxes, while warning against privatization and
austerity. It continues to call for the Ontario Pension Plan to be defined benefit and
universal. Labour Council supports these demands, and urges affiliates to prepare
for hard work around these issues.



Is there another long, cold labour winter ahead?

There will be a difficult conversation taking place within the ranks of the NDP and
its affiliated unions in the coming months. It will be about more than election
tactics – the real question is how to stop the political drift that afflicts many social
democratic parties as they believe that electoral success is within their grasp.
What is the vision of a political party that wants the loyalty and support of the
labour movement? There is no easy answer, but it needs to be a tough discussion

that rebuilds confidence of those who care about social and economic justice.

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