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President’s Message – Not Voting Cannot Be An Option – Election 2015

Sep 25, 2015
Politics can be an uncomfortable topic of discussion.  People are often hesitant to discuss or even reveal their opinions for fear of opposition or conflict and the IBEW as an organization is no different. Our Local union, being comprised largely of public servants and others in highly regulated sectors, has historically been more pragmatic by choosing to work as best we can with the government of the day. The time has come with the current government to move past this mindset and start talking politics.

The Harper Conservatives are hurting our democracy, eroding the ability of organized labour to be effective, and eliminating basic rights of Canadians. Since the Conservatives took office in 2006, they have:

  • Enacted the so-called “Employees Voting Rights Act” (Bill C-525) which, among other things, permits a minority of employees (40%) to trigger a decertification process. Worse still, there is no defined timeline for the now required vote giving the employer the advantage of controlling the timing and thus allows for much greater potential of intimidation, interference and outside influence.
  • Enacted a (probably unconstitutional) amendment to the Income Tax Act (Bill C-377) whose goal is to create a burdensome financial reporting process for labour unions. Financial information previously available only to a union’s members will have to be made public.  The Harper Conservatives claimed there was a lack of financial transparency by unions to their members. Frankly, this legislation is totally unnecessary because the Canada Labour Code (and other labour codes) already provides members the right to request this information from their union. The real purpose of this law is to force unions to disclose their financials to employers.  Nothing else.
  • The current government has also demonstrated disdain for its own employees in several other ways. First, they refuse to recognize our right to bargain subjects such as short-term disability. Ignoring collective bargaining agreements by trying to impose changes to sick leave, reducing jobs in the public service, and cutting funding to departments and public programs have had major and direct effects on public servants in Canada.  The government is tarnishing the reputation of its workforce and treating them as an undesired liability rather than its most valued asset. The unfortunate result is a quickly vanishing notion of an elite and highly sought after career in the public service. There can be little uncertainty in correlating this mistreatment with the dramatic increase in stress and mental health related leave among the federal public service.

And to round off the list,

  • The PMO is micromanaging the entire bureaucracy thus making the public service LESS efficient, not more.
  • They blatantly interfere in labour disputes to the benefit of employers.
  • They continually muzzle government scientists keeping facts out of the public eye while promoting their own political agenda in any number of fields.
  • Abuse the parliamentary process by introducing omnibus bills hundreds of pages long to obscure their true intentions.
  • Changed elections rules thereby denying 1.4 million Canadians the right to vote.
  • Eroded personal freedoms through bill C-51.
  • Denied senior citizens important benefits by increasing Old Age Security eligibility from 65 to 67 years of age.

The list goes on but how do we stop it?

The answer is simple. Vote. Don’t be among the many that choose not to vote because they think it won’t make a difference. Even worse, don’t choose to avoid Election Day because you don’t feel informed. Never before has SO MUCH information been available. Granted, much of it is skewed, perhaps even most of it, but it doesn’t take much effort to read through the rhetoric and make a decision for yourself. Really pay attention to the issues that matter to you and your family, find sources that you trust and discover who is best suited to represent your interests.

There is no doubt that political candidates would love if you got involved in their campaign, put a sign in your yard, make donations, or volunteer with their team. Do those things if you like but here’s the bottom line:

Please vote on October 19.

In Solidarity

Dave Cupples
President, IBEW Local 2228