A wake-up call in the wake of the federal election

Smokey Thomas
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Winston Churchill famously said that democracy is the worst form of government – except for all others, and in the wake of our recent federal election, many are feeling cynical these days.

After more than a year and a half, we’re caught in the fourth wave of the COVID-19 pandemic and the rising threat of the Delta variant. People are looking for real solutions, not more platitudes and political theatre.

This past year, Canadians have needed effective leadership and support, not distractions and certainly not another election. The $600 million could have been better spent on a lot of urgent priorities, such as increasing capacity in our hospitals for example.

Instead, we’re right back where we were; people are still afraid, and justifiably angry. We’re living in a highly anxious and deeply divided society.  Calling a needless election at such a time wasn’t just tone deaf, but dangerous – unleashing a stronger, more aggressive fringe, largely represented by the People’s Party of Canada.

Hopefully this party and its ideology aren’t going to gain a long-lasting foothold, but they did see their share of the popular vote triple.

So, what are the lessons and have we learned anything?

We simply can’t afford any more stupid political mistakes. We need governments that will work hard to make life better, and more affordable in meaningful ways; who will generate greater opportunity and stability and take their commitment to serve the public much more seriously.

Because Canadians deserve better than what we’ve got, and in the lead-up to his third term, the Prime Minister promised he’d deliver it. His return to minority status means he must work with other parties – like the NDP or Bloc Québécois – to achieve his goals and regain people’s trust.

And after six years of broken promises, it won’t be easy. Only time will tell whether the third term will be the charm for Trudeau or whether it’s three strikes and he’s out.

But until then, all eyes will be watching to see how he moves on matters like Indigenous reconciliation, universal childcare, health care, housing, climate change and economic recovery in the post-pandemic world.

The Liberals should refocus and get to work navigating Canada towards recovery, and prosperity; to inspire unity by building bridges and working collaboratively with other political parties, other governments and with Indigenous peoples and communities.

Enough platitudes and empty promises, because actions speak louder than words and voters aren’t likely to be as forgiving the next time around.

It’s time to reinvest in our public sector; to rebuild our beleaguered public health and long-term care systems, among others. It’s time to help families, and women, who have been disproportionately affected by the pandemic, by honouring their commitment to affordable childcare.

And it’s time to make the wealthiest Canadians pay their fair share so that we can afford it all; to soften the blow of the COVID-19 crisis and to help spur our economic recovery. Each one of us should pay our fair share, it’s simply the right thing to do.

As union leaders, activists and members, there’s a lesson for us too. It’s our job, and our duty, to hold these politicians accountable; to keep up the good fight for a better, safer Canada.

In the wake of the election results, people aren’t impressed; they need support and real solutions right now, and they’re looking for federal leadership to achieve it. Canada’s success depends on it, and at OPSEU/SEFPO we will continue to demand it.

In Solidarity,

Warren (Smokey) Thomas
OPSEU/SEFPO President

@OPSEUSmokey
facebook.com/OPSEUSmokey

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