The FTQ Has the Right to Wage Political Campaigns

By Frappier, Andre | Canadian Dimension, March-April 2015 | Go to article overview

The FTQ Has the Right to Wage Political Campaigns


Frappier, Andre, Canadian Dimension


During a press conference on January 14, Denis Lebel, Conservative cabinet minister and MP for Roberval-Lac-Saint-Dean, attacked the FTQ (Quebec Federation of Labour), accusing it of spending workers' money on a political campaign. The FTQ had hired eight people to work in eight Quebec ridings, including Lebel's own, in order to defeat conservative candidates in October 2015. In Lebel's view, this is a case of using union dues for purposes other than the defence of workers.

His accusation implies that the nature of the relationship between unions and government is the same as that between the world of finance and government. But that is untrue. The influence of the financial and corporate world is based on the pressure it can bring to bear on the State and its budgets as well as the revolving door that exists between the political and business elites. This ensures that public policy will follow, more or less closely, the dictates of the financial sector. *

Canada Post CEO Deepak Chopra, for example, took exactly the same position in 2011 as that outlined by the Conference Board of Canada, on which body he sits as an executive member. In fact, in its report, The Future of Postal Service in Canada, the Conference Board's recommendations included the capping of salaries, the end of home delivery and the privatization of post offices. On top of this shameful complicity, the Conservative government passed back-to-work legislation when it was Canada Post with Deepak Chopra at the helm that had locked out the postal workers in the first place. As a result, the union was deprived of all its leverage. The same fate befell employees of Air Canada when they were threatened with having a collective agreement imposed on them by an arbitrator. Can it come as any surprise that unions are now seeking another political outcome?

Conservative agenda hurting workers, the unemployed

The Conservative government has redoubled legislative initiatives to weaken the labour movement. The changes to employment insurance, for example, not only drastically compromised the ability of claimants to challenge decisions by government but force workers to accept lower-paid work. …

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