Day 2 of NDP federal conventionQUEBEC CITY—Last night, they listened to the inspiring words of Canadian humanitarian Dr. Stephen Lewis. This morning, they rolled up their sleeves and got to work.
On this second day of the federal New Democratic Party convention, delegates got down to the nitty-gritty: voting on the resolutions that will shape party policy in the coming year.
Several resolutions affected CUPE members, including support for increased federal money for cities, public health care, post-secondary education, a national public child care program and a national pharmacare plan. CUPE was pleased that these and other key issues not only made it to the floor, they were passed–in most instances unanimously.
National President Paul Moist and the CUPE contingent followed the debates with keen interest, standing up at the microphones to make sure the concerns of Canada’s largest union were heard.
“Our members use [funding for cities] every day,” Moist told the convention floor, speaking in favour of a composite “support for municipalities” resolution put forward by the NDP resolutions committee. “They use that money to deliver vital services, to produce clean drinking water, to make our streets and our neighbourhoods cleaner and safer.”
Earlier in the day, Moist participated on a panel on public health care organized by the Canadian Health Coalition (CHC). Joining him to speak out against creeping privatization in our health care system were Linda Silas, president of the Canadian Federation of Nurses’ Unions, and Dr. Robert McMurtry, a prominent orthopaedic surgeon and member of the board of directors of Canadian Doctors for Medicare. (The CHC announced it’s taking this panel across Canada this fall, with different speakers in each region. The tour kicks off in Atlantic Canada in October and will proceed through November. CUPE will post details on our website as they become available.)
“We have to confront the myths about medicare not being affordable and privatization being the only viable solution,” Moist said. “We have to demand the accountability the Canadian public expects of its most cherished social program.”
Moist’s words were echoed this afternoon by keynote speaker Shirley Douglas. Douglas’ late father Tommy, the NDP’s first federal leader, gave us medicare, old age pensions, welfare, Canada’s first cultural policy and many other social innovations, and last year was named “the Greatest Canadian” in a CBC poll. In a moving and impassioned tribute to her father, Shirley Douglas warned delegates to be vigilant and prepared to defend the programs they hold so dear and which her father and his followers worked so hard to build.