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Politicians across Canada were forced to pay attention to citizens, not just corporations, this year as eight provinces went to the polls. CUPE workers scored major victories in Saskatchewan and Manitoba, with the re-election of governments that respect public services. Ontario voters finally defeated the Harris-Eves agenda of privatization, and voters in Nova Scotia elected a minority government with a strong NDP opposition. On the municipal front, Toronto voters picked David Miller, an enthusiastic union-backed proponent of city services, to be their new mayor.

But the two provinces that didnt have to go to the people over the past year, British Columbia and Alberta, steamrolled ahead with their privatization plans. And Quebecs Jean Charest has proven himself a foe to public sector services and jobs.

Still, this past year showed CUPE members have to remain vigilant in all parts of Canada. And on the federal scene, we need to pay close attention to Prime Minister Paul Martin, who just appointed a new parliamentary secretary for public-private partnerships. John McKay, an MP from Toronto, will report directly to Finance Minister Ralph Goodale, a fiscal conservative who favours corporate tax cuts over public services.

The coming months will reveal the true agenda of the Martin government. Martin is a former CEO with dubious labour-relations credentials who won praise from his corporate friends as a program-cutting finance minister. He is promising a new way of governing, but CUPE members should keep his record in mind and judge him accordingly in next springs federal election.