Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Pondering Pandering Political Parties

I am long past the age where I expect very much from politicians of any stripe. While it is easy to target (and I frequently do!) the Harper-led Conservative Party as the party of the corporate agenda, it is also sadly true that both the Liberal Party and the NDP have as their greatest priority the acquisition of power, frequently at the expense of principle. For example, putative messiah of the Liberal Party, Justin Trudeau, is shockingly shallow when it comes to policy pronouncements, the better, I assume, to form them closer to the next election according to perceived public preferences, the reflection of which could lead to victory at the polls. The NDP, with their frequent references to 'the middle class' and their middle-of-the-road policy orientations under Thomas Mulcair are no better.

There is an excellent piece by Glenn Wheeler in this morning's Star that reminds us of these political realities. Entitled Liberal party and the labour movement need each other; the author, a lawyer for the Canadian Office and Professional Employees Union and a member of the Liberal Party’s National Policy and Election Platform Committee, reflects on the fact that while the union he works for is trying to discourage the public from flying Porter Air due to the fuel-handlers' strike, the Liberal Party is pushing discount rates it has negotiated with the carrier for the upcoming Liberal Leadership gathering in Toronto.

This situation, he suggests, is emblematic of the abandonment/downgrading of union concerns by the aforementioned parties at a time when labour is under unprecedented attack both by the Harper regime federally, and the Ontario Progressive Conservatives who are championing 'right-to-work' legislation that would essentially be the death knell of the union movement.

Because I am experiencing some Internet problems right now, I will end with a strong recommendation that you read the full article to see why Wheeler believes that strong unionism and a healthy political climate are complementary, not contradictory objectives. One can only hope that in their race/lust for power, Justin Trudeau and Thomas Mulcair bear that fact in mind.


  1. Dalton McGuinty recently proved how easily politicians can abandon unions, Lorne. Any relationship between unions and political parties should be tentative at best.

  2. I agree, Owen, that it is never a good idea for a union to become a front for a particular party as, for example, OSSTF did when it allied itself with McGuinty after the Harris years made him look good. I guess parties just need to be regularly reminded of the things the Star article makes clear.

  3. And I'm concerned you lumped in the NDP when in fact the example you used, has to do with the federal liberal party flying porter and will be acting like scabs in crossing picket lines. It reminds one, of Trudeau's recent flight on Porter when he tweeted, "just watch me" (cross the picket line).

    Please don't use liberal misdeeds to overlay on the NDP.

  4. It wasn't my intention to conflate the two, Jan, only to suggest that the closer parties are to power, the more willing they seem to be to compromise party principles to expediency. For example, the federal NDP is now trying to excise any references to socialism in their charter, much to the chagrin of many.