Sunday, August 10, 2014

Municipal Elections

Aug. 10, 2014 Dear Editor; Municipal elections, or the next season of political activity will be upon us this fall. Although municipal candidates and elected officials are often our neighbors and co-workers, municipal elections frequently receive less attention than their provincial and federal counterparts. Being careful to not be over zealous (or politely put, not be a pest to these people) municipal candidates and those elected to municipal office are more accessible than any other politician. Federal or provincial officials are accessible when they are in the riding, but their availability pales relative to how often a resident of a municipality will be able to interact with their councilor, trustee and/or mayor. Participating in or viewing local council meetings or simply being able to quickly access a politician living in the community represents a greatly enhanced ability to educate, influence or debate on an issue or issues that will have immediate impact in the community. With nowhere near the majority of the electorate casting a vote to establish majority provincial or federal governments, the recent trend to less engaged voters is costing Canadians dearly as these governments legislate more and more on behalf of the rich and corporate elite and less and less on behalf of all working Canadians. Municipal elections are not responsible for majority governments, but municipal elections are responsible for elected officials that have immediate impact in their community. Many people in Canada, from union members to anti-poverty activists, work tirelessly to effect change that will stem the profound and devastating damage done to working Canadians by a vast array of provincial and federal governments elected not on their merit, but too often by apathy. Every working Canadian needs to thank these activists, but there is no tool more effective in changing the direction of government policy at all levels than informed voters getting out and voting. There must be no mistake that those executing and planning an agenda contrary to the interests of ordinary Canadians have inexhaustible resources and a never ending supply of ethical decay. Resources that they will use to convince people to vote against their own self interests; self interests such as a decent minimum wage, safe workplaces, workplaces with defined benefit pensions and benefits, the right to organize and more. A certain level of surprise is usually present when people start to come to the realization that municipal elections represent a significant opportunity to engage their municipal officials and to generate changes that will benefit working people. Representing over three million Canadian workers, the Canadian Labour Congress through Union affiliates, progressive organizations and local Labour Councils invests considerable effort in the “Municipalities Matters” campaign. The title of the campaign calls out the tangible changes that voters can make by being engaged in their municipal elections and by voting for candidates with a stated desire to work for progressive change in their communities. There is no level of government except the municipal level where carefully considered votes and involvement with local municipal officials by the electorate will have such a tangible result on setting policy on such profound issues as collective bargaining for municipal workers/police/paramedics/fire and others, establishing policy on items like minimum wage (as has been successfully done in Seattle for example), establishing “buy Canadian” policies, governance for local utilities and even in Kincardine the controversial issues associated with the Deep Geological Repository for low and intermediate waste. Educated voters getting out and voting in every election is hugely important. Perhaps with the knowledge of how important municipal elections are the fall elections will see a significant surge in voter turnout. Who knows, this may translate into a wave of voter engagement and the right wing and the corporations will have considerably less influence on the election outcome. A wave of voter engagement is the biggest fear of right wing governments and the corporate elite. Dave Trumble Kincardine

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Re; Column of Thursday May 1, 2014, PC Leader say he’ll be fighting two “NDP leaders in election

When Tim Hudak exposes his astonishing ignorance of the Labour Movement I feel remiss in not expressing appreciation. What holds me back is that emoting the slightest positive words towards Tim Hudak, even if it is to thank him for exposing his gross ignorance, could influence one uneducated voter to put their “X” opposite a Conservative candidate in the upcoming Ontario provincial election. Putting an “X” alongside any Hudak Conservative candidate will be the biggest political mistake a voter in Ontario will ever make. If we take a look at the column’s blatant and unguarded propaganda about the Labour / Trade Union Movement and then realize that Mr. Hudak has been quoted in the article it is important to understand that, as with Harper’s federal Conservative propaganda specialists, Hudak is fully vested in a campaign of that is divorced from the truth about the labour movement. Hudak is trying to define the activities of the labour movement as it relates to political campaigns and influence from a position of stunning ignorance, stupidity and omission. If the labour movement or the “unions” as Hudak says ran the government of Ontario why does Ontario not have card check certification, anti-scab legislation (or more politely-anti replacement worker legislation, but scabs they are!) and an increasing level of unionization to name a few items. Ontario has none of this stellar list-not that it is not aspired to! It makes printable press, but Hudak’s desire to “rein in public sector unions” is so much rhetoric. Public sector unions have acquired benefits through the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms right to collective bargaining. Hudak would have you believe that what has been acquired makes these union members some kind of elite when in fact collective bargaining has provided a living wage, a pension that permits retirement with dignity and such basics as a safe workplace. Clearly Mr. Hudak wants to push this back so that no person in Ontario can have any of the above-all of which must be basic to every workplace. Hudak’s plan is a Michigan / Wisconsin plan where the legislative agenda and attack on workers and unions has seen job loss, decreased standard of living for all working people and a full speed drive to a low wage economy with no hope for recovery or sustaining of the middle class. If the above is not enough to assist in understanding how out of touch Hudak and his party actually are then people need to see through the veil of intentional omissions in his description of labour’s involvement in political campaigns. The party of Tim Hudak tries to define working people as only those in the labour movement. That is pure propaganda, as the majority of people in Ontario, and almost everywhere, are working people while through fair and legal organizing about 3.5 million people in Canada have the privilege of referring to themselves as union members. In the context of political campaigns, corporations donate untold millions to more than one political party to ensure that at least two parties (Liberal and PC in Ontario) will ignore all the needs of working people and pander to the very rich and powerful. This of course does change when the Liberals campaign from the left and rule from the same right as the Ontario PC’s. When it comes to the labour movement getting out and campaigning, there is no mystery. The labour movement puts resources and people on the street to canvass and campaign for amongst many responsible issues-wait for it-living wages, decent pensions, fair access to collective bargaining and organizing, safe workplaces and access to broader issues like healthcare and education for all people and not just for Hudak’s powerful friends. This election is the most important election in decades in Ontario-maybe ever! This is the time for the citizens of Ontario to send a message that we are not Michigan or Wisconsin or any other regressive and repressive jurisdiction and we will not let an ignorant bully like Hudak get elected. This would be a good time to return MPP’s to the Ontario legislature without one single member of Hudak’s party being elected anywhere in Ontario. Dave Trumble Kincardine