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Now more than ever: It’s time for ALL working families in Canada to stand together

The results of federal elections have become increasingly important to Canadian working people, including ATU members as the same anti-union forces that have plagued America have found a receptive audience in Canada’s political and economic institutions.

This has been particularly manifest under Stephen Harper’s Conservative government, which has consistently attacked unions, putting more pressure on organized labour than it has seen since the early 1900s.

They have done this not only through their avowedly anti-worker and anti-union policies, but through their unceasing anti-labour rhetoric, which (as most ATU locals have experienced) has infected Canadian political discourse and policy-making at all levels.

Ridding Canada of unions

Phrases such as “right-to-work” and “public-private partnerships” (P3s) now permeate policy discussions throughout Canada. And the forces promoting privatisation and right-to-work (RTW) laws make no bones about their objective:

It is to rid Canada of unions and to prevent working people like us from achieving even a semblance of fair treatment at work and a decent living for ourselves and our families.

The coming federal election is, therefore, a matter of immediate and direct concern to every working family – and every ATU member.

Workers of all types – both unorganized and organized – today face threats that would have seemed unthinkable not so long ago.

Union members, connected in any way to the public sector – like most ATU members – have been the target of right-wing, anti-labour groups (often funded by corporate money) that have spent huge amounts trying to blame workers for the economic ills of the nation.

The objective of the anti-labour politicians arrayed against unions like ATU is not to improve service – but to grab control of public facilities (and their operations) for their for-profit corporate friends who provide them with political and financial support.

This is all part of a broader plan to weaken and destroy labour unions, and silence the voices of those who speak out for fair and decent treatment for regular working people.

Danger and Hope

Never has an election in Canada held so much danger – or hope – for every working family in Canada.

Never has a Canadian federal election been such a tight, three-way, neck and neck race in the polls.

The polls, however, have consistently shown that the NDP – with its leader Tom Mulcair – is the strongest party today opposing the anti-labour, anti-worker agenda of the Harper government.  In fact, only the NDP is positioned to win enough seats to make its leader Tom Mulcair the prime minister and replace the existing anti-worker Harper Government.

Working people have seen the writing on the wall – for their future and the future of their children and grandchildren. And many have come to one absolutely critical conclusion:

It doesn’t matter whether in the past you voted Conservative, Liberal, NDP, BQ or Green, THIS TIME, all working people must stick together to defend and protect what we have earned and fought for. Because if working people won’t stand up and fight for their families – no one else will!

Divided, we all lose.

Leader and Party overviews

What follows is a short overview of the top three parties’ positions on key labour and and public transit issues, particularly the ones that directly affect your job and your situation at work.  Please take the time to read over these summaries before you decide which leader and party to support.

The three major federal leaders and their parties are listed here:

Leader Thomas Mulcair

New Democratic Party (‘NDP’)
Nouveau Parti démocratique (‘NPD’)

Like its federal leader, Tom Mulcair, the NDP (New Democratic Party) has always been aligned with the labour movement in Canada. The great friend of regular Canadian working people, Tommy Douglas, was NDP’s first federal leader in 1961.

In 2011, under the leadership of the late Jack Layton, the NDP won the second-most seats in the House of Commons, elevating the federal party to Official Opposition status for the first time in history.

Mulcair has led the official opposition to the Harper government in Ottawa since 2011.

In that role, Mulcair has opposed the anti-union and anti-worker initiatives of the Harper Government, and – in the tradition of Tommy Douglas, Ed Broadbent and Jack Layton – established a strong record of standing up for Canadian working people.

One poll after another has shown that he is regarded as the most competent and experienced leader running and the most likely to be able to bring about the change which Canadians of all political backgrounds want so badly.


Tom Mulcair is the most unabashedly and straightforward pro-worker and pro-union party leader in the current election.  And he’s not afraid to say so publicly.

As he so strongly put it in a recent speech, “Unions are responsible for the greatest reductions in social inequality over the past 200 years. We can be very proud of the things that we take for granted today like protection for workplace accidents or, simply, having a weekend.”

Mulcair has been receiving enthusiastic support from union members throughout Canada – including many from Liberal and Conservative backgrounds.

Whatever their personal backgrounds, they all see the serious threat to union members and working people that are all around us today.

And they realize that all workers must stand together to stop the current and planned anti-worker policies of the Harper Government. 


Mulcair and the NDP strongly support public transit.  In June, Mulcair told the Federation of Canadian Municipalities:

“An NDP government will partner with cities by creating a new public transit strategy called the Better Transit Plan. Working alongside the provinces and territories, this 20-year plan will invest $1.3 billion annually, that’s money for every municipality with transit needs. It will be predictable, direct and transparent…”

Tom Mulcair also strongly supports the Canadian Labour Congress’ Better Choice Campaign and shares the view that improved public transit is vital to Canada’s economic health and job growth. Mulcair asserts that, “Smart investments in transit are expected to increase Canada’s GDP by over $2-billion a year. They’ll create more than 31,000 middle-class jobs in construction, manufacturing and transit operations.”


NDP Leader Tom Mulcair strongly supports Labour and public transit. He has not been afraid to stand up and say he’s on the side of ATU members.  

Leader Stephen Harper

Conservative Party of Canada
Parti conservateur du Canada

Stephen Harper is the leader of the Conservative Party. He has been prime minister of Canada since 2006.


Prime Minister Harper has consistently supported policies and pushed legislation through Parliament that has been harmful to Labour. The Canadian Foundation for Labour Rights has assembled a list of 216 restrictive labour laws passed by Conservative federal and provincial governments since 2006.

The Harper Government has proposed and tabled back-to-work legislation six times and used it four times to stymie collective bargaining and force workers back to work.  Other Harper anti-union laws include:

Bill C-10 (2009) imposed salary caps on raises for federal employees and prohibited non-wage increases, such as bonuses. The large budget bill also took away the right of public sector unions to file collective pay equity complaints and set a $50,000 fine for unions that helped individual women make such complaints.

Bill C-4 (2013), the Economic Action Plan 2013 Act No. 2, allowed the federal government to unilaterally define any employee’s work as essential, and thus prevent that worker from taking job action.

Bill C-525 (2014) the Employees’ Voting Rights Act, makes it harder to certify a union to represent a group of workers. Previously, a union trying to organize a workplace could trigger an automatic certification if it presented sign-up cards from 50% plus one of the employees at a workplace. Under C-525, no automatic certification is allowed, and the union must present sign-up cards from 45 % of the workforce (up from 35 % under earlier law) just to trigger a vote.

The new law also makes it easier for an employer to get an existing union de-certified – a target of their right-wing, anti-union and anti-working people ideological position.

Most experts expect this kind of law will trigger a wave of anti-union de-certification actions coordinated by anti-labour groups.

These anti-worker groups know that they can force unions – like your ATU local – to expend considerable resources to defend themselves against these attacks, and thus divert resources away from efforts to work for better wages and benefits and other workplace protections.

Public-Private Partnerships

Perhaps, most important to ATU members has been the Harper Government’s creation of PPP Canada, a crown corporation that facilitates the development of public-private partnerships (P3s) in the construction and operation of government projects.

ATU strongly opposes P3s, because they employ low paid nonunion workers to do the work formerly done by unionized public workers.

Most experts agree that the P3s created and implemented by the Harper Government represent a serious threat to the jobs and well being of transit workers throughout Canada.

Transit workers of all political persuasions are directly threatened by this growth of P3s under the Harper Government.

Right to work

Stephen Harper strongly supports right-to-work (RTW) legislation, which would greatly weaken if not destroy Canadian unions.

Harper’s Government blatantly advertises its support for this anti-worker policy even though the measure has the potential to devastate the families of millions of workers who supported a very different Conservative Party in the past.


The P3 program, which is the centerpiece of the Harper Government’s agenda, particularly threatens ATU members.

Harper’s currently proposed transit program virtually requires that most new transit projects be built and managed by private contractors that can be expected to fight union representation of, and collective bargaining with their employees.

Harper’s newly announced public transit plan will not benefit ATU members, or the communities they serve.   Indeed, ATU members may find themselves fighting to prevent their own job from being outsourced to a private contractor.


ATU members are urged to consider seriously the threat that a vote for the continuation of the anti-union policies of the Harper government poses to their job and their livelihood.

Leader Justin Trudeau

Liberal Party of Canada
Parti libéral du Canada

The Liberal Party leader is Justin Trudeau, the son of former Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau.


In his short time as the Liberal leader, Justin Trudeau has established a record that closely resembles Harper’s when it comes to anti-worker policies.

Nevertheless, Trudeau is trying to convince union members that he’s really on their side.  But – what about his record?

•  In 2014, Justin Trudeau and his whole caucus voted against NDP legislation to provide job
    protection that would prevent reprisals against volunteer firefighters who must be absent
    from their workplace.
•  In 2011, the Trudeau Liberals voted against an NDP proposal to delay Canada Post
    back-to-work legislation.
•  In 2012, the Trudeau team voted against protections for French language workers in the
    Canada Labour Code.
•  In 2012, Trudeau and his team voted against job protection for pregnant or
    nursing employees.


P3 privatisation is the most potent weapon anti-union politicians use against unions and ATU members, and there’s no question where Trudeau stands:

Last year Trudeau told the pro-privatisation Canadian Council for Public Private Partnerships, “The answer is clear: We commit to investing more in badly needed infrastructure projects… So private capital will obviously be important because it will enhance – and complement increased federal investments.”


P3s are really a tool politicians use to get rid of unions. Privatisation threatens ATU jobs. A vote for a pro-privatisation Trudeau Liberal Party candidate is a vote against your own collective bargaining rights and employment.

Leaders Gilles Duceppe and Elizabeth May

Bloc Québécois, and the Green Party of Canada

Bloc Québécois, the Green Party and their leaders, Gilles Duceppe and Elizabeth May have well-established, positive records standing up for working people in Quebec and throughout Canada. But, polls show that the real contest in this election is among the Conservative, NDP and Liberal parties.

This doesn’t minimize the importance of Duceppe and May’s commitment to working people. They have honourable and decent records.  However, a vote for either of these parties would be a vote lost to a pro-working family candidate.

Votes for the Bloc or the Greens in close ridings in, for instance, Quebec or British Columbia could tip the balance in Parliament. Given the closeness of this election, that could end up having serious consequences for all working families – and all ATU members – in Canada.