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Montreal transit workers made a special stop yesterday outside the Liberal party’s general council. The workers are protesting plans to rewrite their collective agreements and privatize public transit. The bus drivers, metro operators and fare collectors are members of CUPE 1983.

The workers rallied outside a downtown hotel where party members were considering resolutions introducing privatization through public private partnerships.

Local president Claude Benoit says he’s surprised the Liberals are considering this route, given the poor record of P3s in Canada and around the world. “P3s never live up to their promises. They simply don’t work. London’s failed tube P3 is the most recent example.”

Benoit also points to a recent study published by the Federation of Canadian Municipalities, which shows P3s don’t bring any cost savings and lack transparency. “Unfortunately, there are still ideologically-driven politicians who are relentlessly pushing these bad schemes. We’re here to remind the Liberals that we’re watching them, and we are committed to defending public services,” added Benoit.

This isn’t the first time the provincial Liberals have pushed transit privatization. In 2005, public pressure forced the Liberal transport minister to back away from P3s. CUPE 1983 has also successfully fought transit P3s at the local level, organizing a widespread information and mobilization campaign in 2005 that convinced the head of Montreal’s public transit authority not to privatize. Transit workers also scored a similar victory in Longueuil, Quebec.