One of the greatest orators ever to come out of English Canada, Stephen Lewis, had delegates on their feet with a rallying cry against what he called “criminal passivity” around the world.
Most known for his work with the United Nations in fighting the HIV-AIDS epidemic in Africa, Lewis described as “magnificent” the 250,000 dollars in support which CUPE and its locals and members have contributed to his Stephen Lewis Foundation.
Speaking about the Harper government’s current attack on free collective bargaining, Lewis asked, “Can you imagine anything more obscene, than the indefensible attack on unions and working people at the hands of the current government, and all of it at the expense of working people.”
He accused Stephen Harper of “being determined to change the landscape and values of Canadian society to the point where it will be unrecognizable.”
Speaking to the question of labour’s role in the NDP, Lewis was clear. “I’ve never flinched at the centrality of the labour movement in the NDP. Expand that role and don’t be self-conscious about it,” he urged our union.
Offering a bouquet to the work of the Global Justice Committee on women’s issues, Lewis suggested, “There is no more important struggle on the planet than the struggle for gender equality.
“CUPE reaches out to the rest of the world like no other union I have ever seen, from the Arab Spring to the fight for the right to clean water around the world.”