|Labour reacts to the shutdown of Parliament
On Thursday, December 4, 2008, Governor General Michaëlle Jean granted a
request from Prime Minister Stephen Harper to suspend Parliament until late
next month, a move that avoids a confidence vote set for Monday that could
have toppled his minority government. Monday's no-confidence vote could
have precipitated the rise of a proposed Liberal-NDP coalition, supported by
the Bloc Québécois, or could have resulted in another election, depending
on the Governor General's response.
This same day, thousands of people converged on Parliament Hill in Ottawa
for a noon-hour rally to protest the prorogation of Parliament and to show
support of the call for a Coalition Government.
Other rallies were held on Thursday across Canada where thosands more
participated: Calgary, Charlottetown, Edmonton, Halifax, Moncton, Regina,
St. John's, Vancouver and Winnipeg. More rallies were held on Saturday in
Montreal, Sudbury and Toronto.
The President of the Canadian Labour Congress, Ken Georgetti, one of many
Canadian labour leaders that participated in Thursday’s rally in Ottawa,
reacted to the shutdown of Parliament by saying it will cost people their jobs
and delay much-needed action to confront the economic crisis.
“Our country is standing on the edge of an economic crisis. People are losing
their jobs and watching their retirement savings evaporate. While
governments around the world are taking action to stimulate their
economies our Prime Minister has shut Parliament down. This is not what
the country needs. We need Parliament to get to work,” said Georgetti.
Georgetti compared the Prime Minister to an employer trying to avoid signing
a collective agreement.
“He’s acting just like one of those bad bosses when he can’t get his way at
the bargaining table. Instead of working for a solution, he shuts the doors
and locks everyone out. Our democratically-elected Members of Parliament
just got locked out of their jobs. The majority of them want to go to work
for the good of the country. The majority of them want to support an
economic plan to save jobs and protect our economy. Now they can’t do
that because the Prime Minister has shut our democracy down,” says
Georgetti says that Canadians are going to lose their jobs because of what
the Prime Minister has done today.
“How many factories and mills are going to close? How many people are
going to lose their jobs? How many people are going to be denied
Employment Insurance and forced to watch their pensions disappear while
the Prime Minister plays politics? This is a sad day for Canada,” says
CAW President Ken Lewenza said that a political response to the economic
crisis is needed immediately. Across the globe, governments are stepping
up with financial stimulus packages, he said. "Our Prime Minister has walked
away from Canadians during the most severe economic crisis in decades,"
said Lewenza. "He has sacrificed what's in the best interests of Canadians
for his own political purposes."
Communications, Energy and Paperworkers Union President Dave Coles,
United Steel Workers Union Canadian Director Ken Neumann joined with
Georgetti and Lewenza in expressing their frustration of the decision to
CAW Council delegates support Coalition Government and
attend Toronto rally
Liberal Leader Stephane Dion and NDP Leader Jack Layton attended CAW
Council on December 6th at the Sheraton Centre in downtown Toronto to
outline the need for ongoing support of the Parliamentary coalition opposed
to the Stephen Harper Conservatives.
|Above photo: The Council of Canadians
|The CAW joined the CEP and USW at a Toronto press conf.
December 4, interrupted by news that the Governor General
of Canada had prorogued Parliament for two months
Posted on the Home Page of: cawcouncil4000.com
|This video is posted on: cawcouncil4000.com/imedia.html
Dion and Layton each spoke to CAW Council delegates after a mass rally at Nathan Phillips Square outside Toronto City Hall and
just across the street from the Sheraton Centre, where thousands gathered to demonstrate their support of the Parliamentary
They urged support for a new Liberal/NDP Coalition government with the support of the Bloc Quebecois and Green Parties that will
provide an economic stimulus package.
Dion slammed Harper for refusing to do anything to prepare for the recession. Harper's response was an economic statement that
was an ideological document that did nothing to save a single job, said Dion. The tragedy is that 66,000 job losses occurred in
Ontario last month alone and Harper's response was to suspend Parliament in an effort to save his job and avoid a vote that would
have meant the democratic defeat of his government, Dion said. Canada must invest in its economy just as other governments are
doing around the globe. "This is about the economy - Stephen," Dion said.
Layton blasted Harper for using "divide and conquer" tactics and using divisive terms such as separatists. "We've got to say no to
that - our country is too important for that," Layton said.
The NDP leader cautioned that the next seven weeks leading up to the return of Parliament will not be easy as the Conservatives
will spend millions on advertising in opposition to the Coalition. "I'm here to tell you I'm part of the 62 per cent majority," Layton
said to cheers and applause as 1000 delegates and staff held up Coalition Yes, Make Parliament Work signs.
He urged delegates to continue supporting the coalition government that will build a consensus-based response to the economic
crisis. Layton said a new coalition government would support workers and industries such as auto and forestry that are being so
Lewenza told delegates the Coalition leaders are presenting a historic opportunity to bring about progressive change. Lewenza
thanked both Dion and Layton for their courage in stepping forward and building a coalition that will work on behalf of working
people. He said while Harper has millions to spend on advertising, the CAW and working people have "human capital."
Lewenza urged delegates to step forward and become actively involved in the work of supporting the Coalition in the coming weeks.