Yesterday Canadians sent a clear message: Stephen Harper’s regressive decade of divisive, anti-democratic politics is over. Harper’s agenda was ruthless: painful cuts to public services and programs that all Canadians depend on, paired with massive tax breaks for the richest individuals and most profitable corporations. Canadians have spoken and Harper’s agenda has been soundly rejected.
Voters have expressed a clear desire for change. The Liberal party has signaled strong support for enhancements to the Canada Pension Plan, something which CUPE has wholeheartedly supported. They are also committed to opening a new chapter in federal-provincial relationships which could lead to the speedy negotiation of a new health accord. Alongside this new health accord, it is critical that the new government commit to the enforcement of the Canada Health Act.
There has also been general agreement from all parties other than the Conservatives that Harper’s divisive and unconstitutional attack on unions, Bill 377, should be repealed, as should Bill 525, which is an attack on workers’ rights to join and remain in a union.
The Liberals have also recognize the incredible infrastructure deficit that is part of the Harper government’s dismal legacy for Canada. It is time to deal with that deficit – but these next years are an opportunity to ensure that infrastructure is funded publicly. Municipal and provincial governments ought not to be in a position where they are forced to privatize assets such as water and waste water treatment systems or sports arenas just so that they can afford to upgrade them.
The overwhelming rejection of the Harper government should serve as a reminder that a majority government will quickly lose credibility if it governs unilaterally and that the democratically-expressed views of Canadians should all be considered when setting governance priorities and policy goals. As Canada’s largest union, CUPE remains committed to holding the new Liberal government to their promises.
CUPE also salutes Tom Mulcair and the NDP. Tom Mulcair took a principled position in opposing Harper’s divisive campaign against Muslims, and particularly against Canadian Muslim women. He and the NDP stood up for human rights and civil liberties because it was the right thing to do, even if it wasn’t always the popular thing to do. We congratulate the NDP for the courageous positions they took and their steadfast championing of the rights of workers.
CUPE members, like the vast majority of Canadians, are happy to see the end of the Harper government and are optimistic that by working together our new Parliament can truly put Canadian working people first. We look forward to working more productively with the new government than we have been able to do in the past decade.