Response to McNeil’s Facebook post re: right to strike

We would like to respond to Stephen McNeil’s accusation on his Facebook page that President Jessome has made a baseless attack on the Liberal Party. This is not the case and a misrepresentation of the facts.

The basis for our email to members was the information from the Pictou Bee that the Liberals were polling the following:

The following is a list of possible policies and initiatives that a provincial government could undertake in Nova Scotia. Please tell us whether you would strongly support, somewhat support, somewhat oppose or strongly oppose each:

  • Breaking Nova Scotia Power’s monopoly.
  • Banning healthcare strikes.
  • Accelerating development of Nova Scotia’s natural gas deposits for export.


Here is the text of the email we sent out to our membership:

Dear NSGEU members,

This morning we were made aware that the NS Liberal Party is polling on the question of banning strikes in Nova Scotia.

Click here to view the information we received from the Pictou Bee:

Please note: that this is a phone survey and you may or may not receive a call from their polling company.

Without the right to strike, instead of collectively bargaining, we will only be able to collectively beg.  

The right to strike is fundamental to being able to achieve collective agreements our members accept. Even if you do not have the right to strike, you benefit from the collective agreements your sisters and brothers in the labour movement achieve with the right to strike.  

The right to strike is a fundamental right found in democratic societies and is an important right to defend and protect.

As we gear up to another provincial election, please question your political representatives about their position on this important labour right and speak out to protect it. 

No matter what you think of the Pictou Bee, we were reacting to the information that the Liberal Party was polling on the right to strike. We sent a tweet out to McNeil asking him to confirm or deny this fact this morning at 9:30 a.m. and have still not had an answer.

Stephen McNeil’s response stated: “This is an attack by Joan Jessome against me and our party….”

We did not attack the Liberal party, but expressed a real concern about their possible intentions regarding “banning healthcare strikes” and asked our members to stand up to protect and defend our labour rights with every political representative.

We wish that instead of an attack on our President Joan Jessome, the Liberal Party would have just clarified their position with us (as they have now done) in a respectful way and answered our question about the poll (which they have yet to do).

We understand now that the Liberal Party and the Liberal Caucus are in favour of the right to strike and in favour of full collective bargaining rights. We are pleased to hear this. However, we remain perplexed about why they would poll on banning healthcare strikes while holding such a strong position.

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5 Responses to Response to McNeil’s Facebook post re: right to strike

  1. Steven May 28, 2013 at 4:31 pm #

    You ask why the Liberals would poll that question while stating they are in favour of the right to strike. The answer is simple. The Liberal Party has always flip/flopped on issues and this is another example. There should be little doubt that if their polling showed an edge to banning health care strikes then banning them would be part of their platform. The only reason to even ask that question is to build up a position against the right to strike.

  2. Christopher May 29, 2013 at 11:35 pm #

    I feel that a point is still being missed. The Pictou bee implied that the liberal party conducted the poll, and I have yet to see a single bit of proof to that allegation. If the poll was conducted by someone else, then yes, spreading this false story in a direct mass email to our membership does amount to a baseless attack on the liberal party of NS. It takes an allegation and lends it credence by putting the weight and voice of the nsgeu behind it. Without additional information, we are as equally valid in suspecting the NDP or PC parties of conducting the poll, and yet I have not received an email accusing either of these parties of trying to ban our right to strike. Nor have I seen a followup email to the members saying that the previous article was misleading, that the liberals have supported our right to strike, or anything outside these posts to the nsgeu home page. Frankly, I believe that more people would read the misleading email than will see this reasoned debate on the website.

    It is troubling that someone would poll to see if there is support for taking away the right to strike. If the poll was put forth by the liberals, then they have some things to answer for. Until then, we have some things to answer for.

    • Amy June 3, 2013 at 11:19 pm #

      Very well said Christopher! We have now received an email which still tries to point to the Liberal party by showing the copy of the poll itself and links the Liberal Party of Canada as a client of Gandalf (the polling agency). However, other possible agencies are included on the client list, including the Government of Nova Scotia! It also includes CTV. The email still insinuates Liberal involvement and makes no mention of how (or whether) the NSGEU has actually confirmed the NS Liberal party were responsible for the poll. In looking at the poll, it could have been conducted by any of the three parties as all questions relate to NS political topics of the day. This is what is troubling me as a union member who has placed my trust in my union to responsibly research and provide accurate information before sending it to members. The fact that the original email was entitled, “NSGEU News – Potential Threat to our Labour Rights From the Liberal Party” is a very strong and misleading subject heading. I consider myself a union activist (I am a shop steward) who strongly believes in the union movement, but I want to ensure my fellow members are receiving accurate information. The emails strike a chord with me, and though the second email states the NSGEU are not taking a partisan position, the language usage and ‘planted seeds of doubt’ imply just that. I really wish the NSGEU email clarified the Liberal position for members which I feel is a win in and of itself, rather than continuing to speculate about the NS Liberal party’s involvement in the poll. We now have a public declaration by the Liberal party that they support the right to strike. Hopefully future information will be well-researched and received from a credible source before releasing it to our members.

  3. Fiona June 4, 2013 at 2:35 pm #

    The NSGEU news item above called ‘Response to McNeil’s Facebook post re: right to strike’ gives the text of the email sent to NSGEU members on May 27 but leaves out of the copy of the text the inflammatory Subject headline which read “Potential Threat to our Labour Rights From the Liberal Party”. This headline alone amounts to fear-mongering and does have the definite feel of an “attack” considering the subject of the email. A poll is just a poll and there’s no harm in asking Canadians for their opinion on an issue.


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