The clouds of conflict gather as we count down to the federal and provincial budgets. The coming fight will be unlike others; waged by the privileged one per cent, motivated by greed, self-interest and a commitment to dismantle public services. The 99 per cent is in their sights. We are part of the 99 percent, the group that stands in the way of a world without public services, a world without justice, civility and fairness.
We cannot afford to lose this battle for the hearts and minds of Ontario’s people, and their future.
This struggle affects everyone. The one per cent is at war against youth, using weapons like high tuitions, high unemployment and a future of precarious work. They are at war with seniors, who upon retirement see their investments and pensions undermined. Linked to this is their fight with working people who face pay cuts and reduced future pensions, even though in many cases pensions have been paid for with past service. The retirement dreams of many now lie in ruins.
They are also at war with women. The attack on public sector employment is an attack on the women, who are the majority of employees in the sector. Economic power is political power. Losing this war will set the women’s movement back 50 years.
The worst examples of the anti-female fight come from the United States. Just look at American right-wing political commentator Rush Limbaugh. Despite an anti- female rant he is still on the air. Why? He has a large group of supporters. After some public uproar and the loss of a couple of sponsors he made a half-hearted apology. That done he is still at the microphone with 20 million listeners.
These attacks in North America and Europe brought a growing income gap between rich and poor. The middle class has been bombarded with negative images of greedy unions. These messages claim that unions are responsible for the collapse of working class dreams. Unions ask for too much and offer so little. To this I say no!
Bankers, financiers and CEOs are the culprits. They are the ones who, in good times and bad, filled their pockets, foreign investments and tax sheltered accounts with money and power. Worse is the fact that this money and power came from people like you and me.
A lot of factors have come together to allow for this theft. The conditions have been created through a sustained attack on the democratic foundation of our society. In Ontario a retired banker (Don Drummond) was given a task our elected officials are obligated to do. The Drummond Report has become a blueprint for the Ontario government.
At the federal level our federal Conservative government is accused of suppressing voter participation through robocalls. Their goal was simple: Discourage average people from coming out to vote so that the election results will then be determined by the “true believers.” Phone-based voter suppression through robocalling is Canada’s version of men with guns in other countries who stand by voting booths, checking voter lists and then turning away those who won’t vote for the governing party.
It is tragic that this technique, acknowledged by academics, political operatives and even alienated Conservative candidates is underway while women and men in uniform face danger and death in Afghanistan defending democracy
This is where OPSEU comes in. Our opponents hate unions. Canadian commentator Kevin O’Leary refers to our movement as a “cancer” that needs to be destroyed. His inflammatory and inappropriate views indicate that he fears our ideas and influence. He knows our approach, with a lot of hard work, can overcome his propaganda and change society. Despite the fact that governments have waved the surrender flag to the corporate elite, O’Leary fears this may yet be turned around.
OPSEU and its partners constitute a final obstacle of defence for society and its democratic foundation. This is why O’Leary and his allies want us gone. O’Leary’s gang may yet turn out to be the losers.
The coming months are crucial. OPSEU members get it. We have mobilized for the last year and changed the narrative. Just last week, PC leader Tim Hudak publicly said, “You can’t cut your way to prosperity.” Dalton McGuinty has signaled that the corporate tax cuts he planned will now at least be delayed.
We are making having an impact.
Why? Our message is based on the truth. The message is welcome by those in Ontario who long for an alternative positive approach to the future. Ontario needs positive leadership.
OPSEU is our members. There is no “Corporate OPSEU.” Together, we care about women, youth and the elderly. We protect Ontario communities and the country. We are advocates and champions for progress. OPSEU leads the resistance movement to the right-wing agenda. Staff, members, leaders and community partners now work together on this goal, shoulder to shoulder.
This is the OPSEU way… Ontario’s way.