Council of Canadians national chairperson Maude Barlow stirred delegates with a call for “resistance and action” from the majority of Canadians who didn’t vote for Stephen Harper.
Privatization, greed and overconsumption are destroying the planet and creating fierce class warfare, says Barlow, but workers and community allies will stand in the way of this agenda, united in “an unstoppable force for justice.”
She connected growing inequality in Canada with a global concentration of wealth in the hands of very few people. The gap between rich and poor has widened dramatically in the past few years, she said.
“Those responsible for the global recession have been bailed out and rewarded, but 1.5 billion people are unemployed or in vulnerable, insecure conditions.”
Barlow praised CUPE’s progressive stance on many issues, including the fights to stop CETA and protect water and Medicare, saying it’s earned the union the support and respect of many Canadians.
Trade deals like CETA will do Harper’s dirty work for him, imposing privatization on communities, she said.
The Council will be right next to CUPE defending public health care when the federal-provincial health accord is renewed.
“Not even Stephen Harper can take away our most treasured public service if we stand up together,” she said.
She talked about resisting Harper’s anti-worker, anti-union push. “We will work with the three-quarters majority to stand with workers under threat. We will walk their picket lines, support their families, and be understanding when their actions interrupt our daily routines,” said Barlow.
“When an Air Canada worker stands up for her rights, she is standing up for our rights. She is a leader.”
Barlow singled CUPE out for its support of the occupy movement. “It means everything to young people braving the cold and snow to know CUPE members are family.”
Barlow ended her speech on an inspiring note, saying “we act together, and we act for justice, and in that act for justice we find our true, our best, selves.”