Canadian Tories: If the Mitt Fits, Wear It


There was a time when civic-minded individuals entered politics. Sadly, that time appears to have passed.

So what happened? Where did all the nation-builders go? Where are the big thinkers – the problem solvers? More importantly, why do the people we elect today end up punishing the people who elect them?

I’ve heard about people having to work harder and longer for less and yes, I know some folks respond to tough love. It almost makes me want to give back those “entitlements” I am supposedly getting, whatever they are.

Folks, when it comes to promoting hate, nobody does it like the Conservatives. They are the party of hatred. Just look at their vision. Their key words are: tear down, destroy, dismantle and disentangle. And leading this crew of self-entitled snobs is Stephen Harper.

Void of any real ideas and unable to think on his own, Ontario PC leader Tim Hudak is seeking inspiration from his ‘visionary” federal cousins.    

The politics of division, after all, led the Harperites to their majority. Hate unions? Vote for us. Hate pensions? Mark your X here. Disagree with a women’s right to make reproductive choices – we’re your guys. Hate government? We are just the government you’re looking for.

Three things these guys love: power, themselves and their corporate backers. There is nothing like power if the objective is to feather your own nest.

Quick – name five Tories who left politics to go into community work, philanthropy or volunteering. Yep…..that’s what I thought. Zero is the answer! If politics is really working for something noble and aspirational then Conservatives are in the wrong business.

I have found it very hard to understand this way of looking at life. It’s all so strange for anyone involved in social justice work and unions. After all, when we see people in pain our inclination is to help.

Our greatest joy comes from making a difference to our world. We see this as our roles as citizens. It is what we owe our community, provinces and country. That desire and mission is the foundation for our lives. That’s why we do the work we do when we provide valued public services or take on a role in OPSEU.

That is a long way from the Conservative world visions. The world for Harper and Hudak is about self-interest and greed. It’s about an elite controlling and benefiting from a servant underclass. It’s about them and us.

Fortunately for the global future, there are more of us than there are of them. There is a majority of people, now gaining their voice, who care about others. These people extend a hand to others. These people are proud to give more than they take.

Tim Hudak has plastered the media with his white papers about the future. His latest, entitled a “New Deal for the Public Sector”, has the mark of the American Tea Party Movement on it. He calls for a leaner, cheaper and more efficient civil service that is results-based. The harder one works the more one earns. He just doesn’t get it. His papers are filled with trigger words and jargon designed to divide groups and spark jealousy and hate.

He does not recognize the reality of the public service Ontario now enjoys. I know who OPSEU’s members are. Two-thirds are women. Most earn modest incomes. Some are part-time and seasonal workers who annually earn just more than the poverty line. They contribute, through their work life and volunteer efforts, to bettering the lives of others. The province, their communities and their friends and family are all better off as a result. After all, everyone needs a strong, caring and inclusive community to prosper. OPSEU members do their work not just for their wages but because they believe public sector work is important. It is the right thing to do to build Ontario.

As 1st VP/Treasurer, I see clearly the wages of our members. Mr. Hudak, a living wage isn’t an unreasonable demand for work that benefits community. Neither are pensions or other reasonable workplace terms and conditions. That is why we believe that together our members build public services one contract at a time.

Tim Hudak, think back to your parents. Your father, as a teacher and high school principal, had all of the “entitlement” you now seek to destroy. You benefited from the secure foundation your family was able to provide, in part because of their wages and benefits. That is the way it should be for others. To think otherwise must also mean that you would have also wanted them to be poorer as well. Would you have ended up with the same benefits you now enjoy if this was the case?

Let’s continue to be an example to others, as community-focused union people. I know that OPSEU members from all walks of life will continue in this spirit as we celebrate the 2012 festive season within our respective traditions.

Whether it is time or money, share it with others if you can. Live out the Union ideal. What we ask for ourselves we want for all.

My friends, in my heart I know that we are in this for all the right reasons.

In solidarity,

Eduardo (Eddy) Almeida
First Vice-President/Treasurer, OPSEU

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