Thirty-two percent more millionaires will be popping up all over Canada over the next ten years. And yes, poverty levels will continue to rise.
You guessed it!
The recently aggrandized Harper government hasn’t wasted any time in kicking the feet out from under the public sector. The federal budget, released on June 6, actually calls for the eradication of one third of the public service. Over the next three years alone, (apparently) starting in 2012, the Harper Government will re-appropriate a whopping 11 billion dollar chunk from the public sector budget. Most of these long awaited riches will of course be used to fill the holes left behind by Harpers beloved corporate tax cuts.
Although according to Alternative Federal Budget Coordinator David Macdonald, these cuts are some of “the most aggressive assault[s] on public service delivery in Canadian history,” it hardly came as a surprise to anyone. Yet Stevie has managed to provoke unprecedented mass protest and sweeping discontent in Canada in recent weeks. Why now?
After the Conservatives won a majority this past election, it seemed as if a sense of tired discouragement had infected the Canadian left. And even though the NDP soared to Official Opposition status, the party lost much of its real opposition power. After a few scattered reactionary anti-Harper protests faded away, the weight of powerlessness set in. The left took a hard hit that seemed to knock a few of us out.
Then June 3rd came around and two things happened. CUPW decided to take strike action against Canada Post and then there was Brigette DePape. And we were suddenly reminded that all hope is not lost.
The CUPW strike brought public funding and labour rights back to the dinner table. The strike intensified the labour movement and reminded people of the strength of collective action.
When the Throne Speech was famously…interrupted, Brigette DePape resuscitated the demoralized anti-Harper movement. Hours after the stop sign was raised, Stop Harper t-shirts, mugs and bumper stickers were available for purchase from a dozen websites.
DePape and CUPW showed that democracy does not end at the polling station. Their actions got people talking about the legitimacy and effectiveness of protests, civil disobedience and strike action. People all over the country were reminded that they can still speak up. And they did!
Soon enough CUPW and the Stop Harper campaign naturally teamed up to advance their common message. One June 10th, a Stop Harper rally in Ottawa, where both DePape and CUPW president Denis Lemelin spoke, attracted over 300 people. The rally was endorsed by over 40 community organizations from across Canada.
In her speech, DePape said:
“It’s clear that people in this country are hungry for change and we’re here because we know that hope for change is only possible when we take action. We’re here because we know the power of the street is greater than any power of any parliament…The Postal Workers are fighting for decent work and want to protect public services and health and safety. Their strike is an important part of a broader fight against the Harper agenda. They need all of our support!”
But it didn’t stop there, 10 days later all 4 unions representing Air Canada workers hit the picket lines for similar reasons as Canada Post workers.
To and insult to injury, just moments after Air Canada workers announced the strike, Harper was already arranging back-to-work legislation. Even though service was continuing as usual, the Harper government claimed that the strike would be too damaging to the Canadian economy. That very same day, Harper condoned the Canada Post lockout of its union member employees and is now using it as an excuse to force CUPW members back to work as well.
Back-to-work legislation is a last resort measure and in this case it is being blatantly abused. According to the Canadian Auto Workers Union president Ken Lewenza, “This action by the government is a clear interference with the right to free collective bargaining…The speed at which this legislation has been tabled points to a very real collusion by the Conservative federal government and Air Canada, to strip workers of their rights.”
If we don’t put our collective foot down now, it might soon be too late. A loss for the unions is a loss for every working class Canadian. The Canadian working class is already in crisis and we cannot afford to sit idly by. The time is now. Join the movement. Mass peaceful protest and civil disobedience is the most effective way to fight against the abuse of civil liberties. A Harper majority does not mean the end of justice in Canada!