We are nearing the end of a tumultuous year of hardship and hope that began with the devastating tsunami disaster last Dec. 26. CUPE responded to the crisis with compassion, speed and generosity.
As we enter a new year, the world continues to struggle with human-made disasters like rising poverty, social exclusion and environmental degradation. It also faces the United States’ belligerence in the Middle East and elsewhere, as well as threats to public safety as the Bush White House wages its so-called war on terrorism and our government follows suit.
While most CUPE members are far from these battle zones, they are always among the first to contribute to the needs of others and work against injustice and inequality. We are also first to lead the fight against forces that weaken our communities and our democracy.
Privatization is one of those forces threatening our communities by spreading exclusion and inequality. It weakens our towns and cities and makes our families more vulnerable to unemployment and lower standards of living.
We are in the midst of a federal election campaign in which the two leading parties, the Liberals and the Conservatives, support the privatization of public services. The Liberals say they won’t but they will. The Conservatives say the will and they truly will.
Both parties argue that they will protect health care and child care. But the Liberals refuse to stop privatization in both critical areas. The Conservatives would just speed it up, even hand out cash to parents directly instead of creating a universal child care program.
Both parties say they have a plan to improve the economy and rebuild the infrastructure sustaining our communities. But both their plans, whether they admit it or not, depend on selling off our public services to for-profit companies.
The New Democratic Party is committed to public services and public social programs. It is the party that can make Parliament work for the rest of us. That is why we are supporting the NDP so strongly in this election.
Sometimes the world overwhelms us, and we think there’s nothing to be done. We encourage all CUPE members to focus in 2006 on the things we really want, for ourselves, our workplaces and our communities. We don’t have to settle for less or give in to cynicism and despair. We can be positive – and vote positive when we go to the polls on Jan. 23.
Let’s go in peace, as we move forward, and as we build our union and strengthen communities every day of the coming year.
Happy holidays and solidarity.