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Dear Sisters and Brothers,

I am writing to tell you that I have decided to step down as National President at our next National Convention in October.

This was not an easy decision to make. In fact, it was the most difficult decision I’ve ever had to make.

The Canadian Union of Public Employees has been my life for 30 years. I was a CUPE activist for 17 years before I had the great honour of being elected as your National Secretary-Treasurer, and then of being elected as your National President for 6 successive terms.

I have what I truly believe to be the very best job in the country if not the world!! The rewards that flow from being able to lead this big, bold and beautiful union are impossible to describe.

My love and admiration and respect for the activists and staff of our union continues to grow stronger with every day. Not a day goes by when I am not awed by the courage and determination and sheer tenacity of our members and our locals unions and bursting with pride at what we achieve together. I am truly blessed to have been able to work closely with hundreds of dedicated, hard-working and talented staff both at National Office and across the country.

In short, I love my job.

But, like a whole lot of other positions in our union, being National President is also a tough job a very demanding job. Travelling 100,000 miles a year is, as some of you have heard me say, absolutely the best part of the job and the worst.

I love nothing better than being out with CUPE members across the country. That’s what has always given me my energy and strength.

But packing another bag and getting on a plane twice a week, most weeks of the yearhey, I’ve been compared to an Eveready battery that never runs downbut no-one can keep up that pace forever. Nor should you try.

I have poured my heart and soul into this union for over 30 years. And I’m very happy to say that my energy level and spirit of struggle are still incredibly high.

And it seems to me that’s the best time to decide to leave.

A year ago, my family decided that we were going to move our household to Vancouver after my son finishes high school in Ottawa this June. Rather than commute back and forth which was my original plan I have decided to join them in British Columbia after the National Convention so that, as a family, we can start our new adventure together.

I haven’t got the slightest clue what I’m going to do with the rest of my life. And to be honest, for someone who’s always got an action planthat’s a little scary.

What I do know is that I’m going to have more time to spend with my partner and son whom I dearly love, that I’ll be able to do more photography, take more walks, and maybe, heaven forbid, even start going to the Y!!

I do know that there are big battles to fight against Gordon Campbell in British Columbia and against our soon-to-be-Prime Minister Paul Martin not to mention against privatizers and war-mongers everywhere. And I am looking forward eagerly to being part of those fights.

I also know that I’ll never be very far away from the CUPE family whose strength and support and solidarity have nurtured me for so many years.

I can’t tell you how proud I am of the progressive, fighting tradition we have built in this union. The work our members do for our communities often goes unrecognized, and is also, far too often, dangerous and underpaid. But because we in CUPE have taken the lead in fighting for the concerns of front-line workers, the lives of our members, our families and our communities are better. And because of the battles we have taken on together, our country is a better place too.

I can’t tell you how proud I am of our collective commitment as a union that our members are our strength and that democracy is alive and well in CUPE today.

I look forward to seeing so many of you at Division conventions, rallies, marches, conferences and picket lines in the coming months, where I know we’ll have a chance to talk and laugh and cry together and dance up a storm together too.

And I look forward to being there alongside you every day between now and our National Convention at the end of October in Quebec Cityfighting for good contracts, fighting for public services, fighting the privatizers, and fighting for peace.

In Solidarity,


National President

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cc Members, National Executive Board