Posted: Thursday, 6 September 2012
OTTAWA – The veiled threats of a backbench Conservative MP to punish federal public servants for exercising their democratic rights as citizens has drawn the ire of the country’s largest labour organization.
The president of the Canadian Labour Congress says Pierre Poilievre owes an apology to every public servant, especially to citizens of Quebec, for suggesting that a law be passed to deny them the same democratic rights enjoyed by other Canadians.
“Let’s be clear about this. The MP for Nepean-Carleton is not interested in the rights or the freedoms of federal public servants. He’s playing politics. He’s trying to manufacture a crisis where none exists in order to justify what he really wants to do – and that’s silence another critic of his government’s agenda,” said Ken Georgetti.
According to Georgetti, one of the services unions often provide for their members is to analyze the platforms of political parties and the records of candidates seeking election. Many organizations, private and public, offer a variation of this service to their members, subscribers and customers. And more often than not, that analysis comes with an endorsement or a recommendation. It’s part of the democratic process.
“For a politician from Ontario – who has himself been endorsed in the past by the same process – to suggest that Quebec voters who belong to the PSAC should be treated differently is unfair. It also betrays a political ignorance that’s unfitting of a Parliamentary Secretary not to mention stunning for an elected representative from the capital region,” he said, adding that if Poilievre failed to apologize he should be stripped of his duties as Parliamentary Secretary by the Prime Minister.
Threatening legislation to impose rules on how a union serves and communicates with its own members – in this case a union with one of the most democratic structures and which is among the most accountable to its members because of federal law – is absurd and dangerously undemocratic.
“What’s next, Pierre? A law to stop newspapers in Quebec from endorsing the PQ?” chided Georgetti.
“Of course, that’s not what this is all about,” added Georgetti. “This is about the Conservatives using the power they currently enjoy to hurt their political opponents. It’s the bully-state in action and apparently it’s the labour movement’s turn for a shakedown,” added the labour leader.
Georgetti says it should come as no surprise that Canada’s unions have a place on the Conservative hit list. Our history of standing up for fairness for working people stands in stark contrast to the unbalanced corporate agenda at play in Ottawa under the current government.
“This isn’t the first time that critics of this federal government have been singled out for special treatment. It won’t be the last as long as politicians of Mr. Poilievre’s caliber occupy seats in Parliament,” he said.
The Canadian Labour Congress, the national voice of the labour movement, represents 3.3 million Canadian workers. The CLC brings together Canada’s national and international unions along with the provincial and territorial federations of labour and 130 district labour councils. Web site: www.canadianlabour.ca Follow us on Twitter @CanadianLabour.
Contacts: Jeff Atkinson, CLC Communications: 613-863-1413 or Email: firstname.lastname@example.org