The Canadian right is coming for the labour movement. They have been emboldened by their majority in the House and Senate and are more confident than ever that they can get away with using the tools of legislative democracy to undermine the institutions of the labour movement like their close cousins in the far-right of the US conservative movement have. Workers and their elected leadership must see this attack for what it is: the attempt to silence the only real opposition to the far-right, free-market agenda in Canada. We must also understand that the power of the labour movement resides in the membership of workers who are engaged in the struggle for progress every day.
Contrary to the current dominant narrative from the mainstream media and even some cynics near unions, labour organizations are democratic structures of workers and play a huge part in maintaining a vibrant social democracy in Canada. Workers consistently vote to support charities, students movements fighting for increased access to education and aboriginal rights movements fighting for equality. Union support is vital to broad initiatives to support struggles for women’s equality, security in old age and public health care.
Workers, through their unions, have had the ability to pool their resources and support similar, like-minded movements here and it is this that the Tories cannot stand to continue.
The role of labour unions in the defence of the public interest and initiatives that support Canada’s thriving democracy cannot be understated. This is why those that disagree with values of community, equality, social justice and the struggle for decent wages and safe workplaces feel threatened by the power of workers pooling their resources and acting together. Conservative members of parliament have openly stated that undermining this work was part of their support for Bill C-377. The next stage of the attack on workers is aimed at the right to pool their resources and political power. Recent comments from the Ontario Progressive Conservative Party, the Saskatchewan government and the federal Harper government show that dues collection is their main focus. Undermining the political actions of unions and current dues collection structure is their legislative agenda.
Workers must fight back for the sake of all the social justice movements in Canada. Indeed, all those on the Left need to see that this is as close to an existential battle as we have had in this country in a generation.