Written by: Dawn Ferris
If you’re not, let me try to convince you why your vote matters
First, I need to explain, in case you’re not aware, that the NSGEU is a non-partisan union. In accordance with our constitution, we are not allowed to support, endorse or give donations to any political party. Our NSGEU Constitution reads:
ARTICLE 12 – POLITICAL ACTION
Section 12.1 – Program
12.1.1 On the recommendation of the President, the Board may authorize a Political Action Program to promote the interests of the members in the political process and to oppose a government or political party which advocates or implements measures harmful to the members. The Political Action Program shall be comprised of all necessary measures, including mounting a campaign of public information to persuade Nova Scotians to oppose unfair and inequitable treatment of public employees
As you have read, we are allowed to campaign against any political party that works against us and both the McNeil government and the Harper government have been relentless in their attacks on labour. Provincially, the McNeil government targeted us, the NSGEU, when they tried to legislate away the vast majority of our health care members with Bill 1.
Federally, Harper’s government has gutted the Civil Service and the Department of the Environment, passed Bill C-525, an Act to Amend The Canada Labour Code, that makes it easier to decertify unions at airports, railways, banks, TV and radio stations, marine shippers and other federally-regulated workplaces. They amended the Public Service Labour Relations Act that restricts employees’ right to strike and redefines workplace safety repealing provisions that cited perils like environmental hazards as rightful ground for work refusals. They also pushed through Bill C-377, An Act To Amend The Income Tax Act, (a carbon copy of an anti-union Bill by George Bush’s Republicans in 2003) which compels unions to publish confidential data on government website. These are only a few of a long list. The entire labour movement across this country is rallying to get rid of Harper and there are campaigns going on at every level of the labour movement.
Our very own National Union (NUPGE) has developed a few different national campaigns including All Together Now, a campaign for everyone (we are the 99%). As we close in on the Federal election, they have developed materials that outline the record of Stephen Harper’s Conservatives over the last three terms. One of the best publications I’ve seen explaining how we got where we are and the ugly truths about what the Harper government has done is in a booklet published by NUPGE called “Harper Casebook: We’re No Dummies” and you can download a copy at http://nupge.ca/sites/nupge.ca/files/documents/harper_casebook_web.pdf
This booklet is “in your face with the facts” and is not for the weak of heart; but it’s real, and it explains, in detail, how Harper has treated our veterans, his disdain for aboriginal people, and his silencing of scientists among other things. It is great reading and I highly recommend it.
You can find all of the NUPGE campaign material on their website at: http://nupge.ca/ Also look for them on Facebook under All Together Now for more great election material.
As members of NUPGE, we belong to the Canadian Labour Congress (CLC). The CLC has also put a lot of effort and resources into a non-partisan campaign to get rid of the Harper Conservatives. Their campaign focuses on four key issues affecting Canadians and they are:
Retirement Security – Remember, Steve (a.k.a. Stephen Harper) moved the retirement age for OAS to 67?
Health Care – Steve is trying to dismantle the Health Accord and is reducing health transfer payments to all provinces, shifting the burden of health care to the provinces. Health care services are at risk.
Child Care – don’t be fooled by the recent vote purchases child benefits announcement. The overall child tax credit is being reduced and the new amounts will be taxable!
Good jobs – unemployment rates have increased under Steve’s leadership.
Instead of just listening to my opinion, find out more for yourself! The CLC has all of this information on their website. Please visit: betterchoice.ca
Here is my list of reasons why Harper needs to go (I love the “Heave Steve” slogan):
Reasons to “Heave Steve”
Massive omnibus bills: These bills include everything imaginable with many important items hidden deep within them (i.e. the removal of both the protected status from the majority of lakes and streams in Canada as well as the removal of important Occupational Health & Safety regulations were hidden in a Finance Bill).
Contempt for parliament: How many times did Steve prorogue parliament? He did this to avoid questions from opposition leaders regarding scandals. Did we even know the word prorogue prior to Steve…?
Betrayal of our veterans: Steve closed veteran affairs offices across this country, making our vets have to sue this Harper Conservative Government to access their benefits!
Senate scandals: I could list an entire new section on senator spending scandals, but I won’t. You know what I’m talking about. Harper did promise to stop patronage appointments to the Senate and has appointed numerous Conservative senators.
I could continue to list the things that make me mad about Harper, most importantly how he is making Canada more American, but I won’t. I am hoping you will go to the websites I’ve listed and do your own research and draw your own conclusions.
The bottom line is that Stephen Harper was given a majority government in the last federal election with only 34% of the vote! I’m not sure when 34% became a majority…. But the problem, in part, is because good Canadians did not get out and vote. Now I can’t tell you who to vote for, but I can tell you who we need to campaign against and that, my sisters and brothers, is Stephen Harper (a.k.a. Steve), with Stephen McNeil directly behind him. (I will leave that rant for another day).
I read a saying recently, “Bad politicians are elected by good people who don’t vote”. Stephen Harper clearly wants to ensure that people don’t vote. He’s enacted legislation to make it more difficult for Canadians to vote, and impossible for Canadians who don’t live in Canada full time to vote. This is shameful. Donald Sutherland, a famous Canadian actor, has written to the Globe & Mail about it: http://www.theglobeandmail.com/globe-debate/im-canadian-and-i-have-a-right-to-vote/article25731634/ if you want to read his comments.
I would strongly encourage you to check and see if you and your adult children are registered to vote at this website as soon as possible.
In solidarity, Dawn Ferris
Chair, NSGEU Political Action Committee