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Infrastructure, Bargaining Rights, Union Privacy Had Labor in New Canadian Leader’s Corner

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On Monday, the people of Canada voted the Liberal Party into power with the election of Justin Trudeau.  The son of former Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau, who is often referred to as the father of modern Canada, Justin said the results of the election “sent a clear message tonight: It’s time for a change”.  The Liberal Party won 184 seats — ridings, as they are known up north — surpassing the 170 total needed for majority.  The Conservative Party of Stephen Harper managed only 99 seats, which caused Harper to fail to earn a 4th term, although he will stay in parliament.  Harper was in power since 2006.  

Part of Harper’s strategy — he announced that the election would be a record 78 days long — may have backfired on him.  Throughout that time the Liberal Party gained support from a coalition of progressive causes and unions which helped lead to a victory once thought highly unlikely.  The 78 days also gave Trudeau, a former high school drama teacher, a chance to show that he was a man of his own ideas and wasn’t only running on his father’s name. 

Among the biggest supporters of Trudeau and the Liberal Party were public sector unions who had been under attack for a majority of the Harper era.  Many union members and leaders hope the election will mark a new beginning for labor relations in the country.  As Chris Aylward, National Vice President of the Public Service Alliance of Canada, told MetroNews:

“A lot of our members are going to work very happy today, knowing that the Harper Conservatives are no longer their employer.  We look forward to sitting down with the new government as soon as possible to discus how to repair the damage done by the Harper Conservatives, including how to improve labour relations.”

Trudeau promised to restore many of the collective bargaining rights that were stripped from public sector unions under Harper.  Aylward touched on this promise:

“Mr. Trudeau promised in this election to restore collective bargaining rights, and we expect him to honour that.  We’re looking for a new era of restoring trust, where our members voices are valued and respected.”

At the beginning of the campaign, Trudeau also promised to repeal the anti-union bill C-377, which forces unions to submit to burdensome disclosure laws in an attempt to bleed them out financially.  At the time, Trudeau said of the bill:

“A Liberal government is firmly committed to repealing this deeply ideological and highly partisan legislation. It serves no demonstrable public good or necessary policy objective.  As Liberals, it is our fundamental belief that unions have, and continue to play, an integral role in the growth and strength of the middle class in this country. We will work in partnership with Canadian workers to ensure they have a real and fair chance at success.”

Trudeau and his party also promised a tax cut for the middle class that would be offset by raising taxes on the wealthy, and to run deficits for three years in order to pay for a massive 10 billion dollar infrastructure bill.  Trudeau is expected to be sworn in over the next few weeks.


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