Monday, September 12, 2011

It's ON

CAW President sounding the alarm of a blue scare

There's a provincial election, and it's getting serious.

How do you know an election is getting serious in Canada? When union leaders start sounding the alarm and calling for strategic voting. There's a blue scare afoot, and Canadian Auto Workers President Ken Lewenza intends to make it as scary as he possibly can.

"We're asking our members to get politically involved," Lewenza announced. "Look at the campaign and ask yourself... who represents your community and your household the best. I think (people will see) the alternatives are clear. We can't waste our vote on a third party candidate that could split the vote and allow a Tory to win."

Like Buzz Hargrove before him -- Hargrove was kicked out of the NDP for encouraging strategic voting during the 2005-06 federal election -- Lewenza has chosen to back away from being an NDP stalwart, and instead encourage members of his unions to blindly vote againt Tim Hudak and the Conservative Party.

"We marched the New Democrat line," he continued. "We thought, ‘this is our party,' but today we have to be more proactive. You have to think strategically to avoid a disaster... If I had it my way, I would try and convince the New Democrats and Liberals to form an electoral coalition so they're not knocking each other off."

Apparently, the prospect of a Conservative government in Ontario is so scary that Lewenza would, if he could, beat his head against the wall trying to convince the Liberals and NDP to work together to defeat them. He chooses to ignore the correlation between banging your head against the wall and headaches by blaming his headache on the Conservatives.

The Conservatives, it seems, aren't prepared to blindly commit themselves to further economic stimulus, even in the wake of a slowly-recovering Ontario economy. Lewenza would really like it if someone would.

"Even though some would suggest Ontario has recovered on a per capita basis... the fact of the matter is that most jobs being created are part-time and precarious in nature," he declared. "Government intervention in jobs is important."

The detail that the billions of dollars already doled out by the federal and Ontario governments has led to jobs that Lewenza considers "precarious" seems to have little impact on his assessment of it. He somehow thinks more of the same would somehow turn out differently.

Perhaps there's even more to it than that. Lewenza would clearly prefer a government that would bow to the demands of unions over the demands of the rest of Ontarians.

"Even though [labour unions] represent 30 per cent of the Ontario population, we influence 100 per cent of some of the public policy issues on things like minimum wage, pensions and health care," Lewenza added. "People are going to have to be reminded that if there's an aggressive challenge against the labour movement, it normally results in more lost time off work."

Hudak, it seems, is not that leader. He's willing to consider the views of people other than labour union leaders.

"We know the history of Mr Hudak in cabinet with [former Premier Mike] Harris," Lewenza recalled. "I remember it like it was yesterday. The first act Mike Harris introduced in the legislature was to dismantle legislation to allow workers to join a union harassment-free. They disbanded the wage protection program for workers."

In fact, Hudak voted with Harris for legislation that required secret ballot votes before a workplace could unionize, stripping unions of the ability to harass and intimidate workers who voted against unionization. It's no surprise that union leadership opposed such legislation.

The election in Ontario is getting serious. For Ken Lewenza, it's as serious as a heart attack. The prospects of a Progressive Conservative government threaten to undermine the disproportionate political influence of labour unions.

It's something that Ontarians should actually welcome. But Lewenza is too busy trying to make them afraid.

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