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The federal elections in full swing and CUPEs playing an active role. Across the country CUPE members have been quizzing candidates, knocking on doors and attending rallies, ensuring that the politicians and our neighbours know whats at stake in these elections.

National President Judy Darcy has hammered home CUPEs concerns about the threat to public health care and the need for a major reinvestment in public services.

Speaking at the Newfoundland Federation of Labour convention on November, she attacked the hypocrisy of the federal Liberals who are presenting themselves as the saviours of medicare.

Chretien has slashed $25 billion from Medicare funding since 1993 and now that hes putting $22 billion back in, he thinks he should be treated like some kind of hero, said Darcy.

Pointing out that the new health care cash is pretty small compared to the $100 billion they are planning to give away to corporations and wealthy individuals in tax cuts, Darcy said the big concern now is to ensure the funds are invested in strengthening health care.

Health care dollars must not be used to line the pockets of private health care corporations or boost the profits of multinational drug corporations, she said. The money has to go to the front line.

Rejecting the platform of both the Liberals and the Alliance, Darcy said, When it comes to Medicare, choosing between Jean Chretien and Stockwell Day is like choosing between death by lethal injection or death by electrocution. One may feel better than the other, but the result is exactly the same.

Instead she called on delegates to support the New Democrats. There is only one political leader in this country who is willing to stake her future on the fight to save Medicare and thats Alexa McDonough, said Darcy. She is prepared to say no to the corporations and put that $100 million into health care instead of the gigantic tax giveaway the Liberals are promising.

Where the parties stand

CUPE has analyzed the platforms of each of the major federal parties on a wide range of issues including: health care, education, child care, water, trade, investing the surplus, tax fairness and unemployment insurance. Weve also looked at party policies on diversity and immigration, Aboriginal rights, violence against women, disability rights, and lesbian and gay rights.

A summary of the party platforms, with background information and CUPEs position can be found at our Federal Election 2000 web site at cupe.ca/campaigns/election2000/. Youll also find information in the November issue of Organize that will be distributed next week.

Health care householder

CUPE has produced a pamphlet that will go to one million households, including 750,000 in targeted ridings across the country. The householder focuses on health care and calls on Canadians to vote as if your health depends on it.

Warning voters not to be fooled by the promises of the Liberals or the double speak of the Alliance or Conservatives, the pamphlet points out that without the NDP we wouldnt have Medicare and without New Democrats in Ottawa, we could well lose it.

Copies of the householder have been included in the last general mailing. Locals who wish to order additional copies are encouraged to contact the Communications Branch (613) 237-1590 or comm@cupe.ca as soon as possible.

Medicare exhibit

In several provinces, CUPEs new Medicare exhibit is playing a key role in the run-up to the federal election, highlighting public concerns about the future of public health care.

Touring through Ontario, the display has had a great response from members of the public and health care workers. Its also been shown at Federation of Labour conventions in Saskatchewan and Newfoundland and is slated for the BC Fed later this month. In Regina, Shirley Douglas, daughter of Medicare pioneer Tommy Douglas, officially opened the exhibit.

Medicare at the Crossroads shows what life was like before universal health care, how we fought to get it and how its been undermined by funding cuts and increased privatization. The display highlights the choice Canadians face in this election. We can strengthen and modernize Medicare or we can go the American route and permit more for-profit care.

Using strong images and a simple message, the portable displays have been customized for each province and can easily be set up in shopping malls or bingo halls. Divisions across the country are making plans to use the displays for public outreach over the next year, supporting efforts to increase funding and stave off private services.

The Great CUPE Election Pool

Is the election boring you? Well this might spice it up a bit. CUPE launched its online election pool this week as part of its Federal Election 2000 web site.

In addition to summaries of the five major parties positions on issues important to CUPE members and to progressive voters in general, weve also launched an election pool sure to attract political junkies and avid gamblers alike.

Just go to our web site cupe.ca/campaigns/election2000/ – and guess the actual seat count for all of the political parties as well as the independents and you could win.

The prize? A beautiful CUPE Melton leather jacket.

Be sure to read the contest rules.

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