My latest blog, "It's time for civility, now more than ever" was, to say the least, well received. I've never had such an overwhelmingly positive response to an offering.
Sadly, not everyone agreed.
This past week, our President, my friend, lost his mother. Anyone who has gone through this knows the pain of losing the woman who gave you life. It aches all over.
So what did his small group of political opponents do?
They teamed up with Toronto Star columnist Martin Regg Cohn to once again spin the same stale, tired agenda they've been offering since the last OPSEU Convention… that Smokey and OPSEU are alleged to have done something.
Not actually done something. Alleged to have done something.
It's an age-old tactic designed to put your opponent on the defensive.
It's kind of like a reporter asking, “Mr. Almeida, did you support Kathleen Wynne and her Liberals last election?" To which I would reply, "Of course not." The resulting headline? “OPSEU First Vice-President/Treasurer denies having supported Liberals in last election.”
It's a common ploy of a media outlet whose common share on the stock market is now worth less than its Saturday edition.
In any event, all of those allegations will go to the appropriate forum in the fullness of time.
I understand political attacks. I've been targeted a few times myself. They say it goes with the territory. But in this case, humanity and decency could have triumphed.
Even from the most cynical point of view, this attack could have been launched this week, a week after the death of Marie Thomas. Quite possibly it could have had more traction right before the OPSEU regional meetings coming up this weekend, when OPSEU delegates elect their Executive Board Members for the next two-year term.
It would certainly have given us less time to refute the nonsense.
But the president of OPSSU, the union of frontline OPSEU staff, and a certain leader in our CAAT-Academic division, had other ideas.
They hurt to the quick — the proverbial "kick him when he's down." Our old pal at the Star was more than happy to oblige and pen the dribble.
But it won't work for two reasons.
First, OPSEU members cringe at such tactics because we aren't mean people; We are helpers not hurters.
Second, our President, my friend, will bounce back up. Already supported by literally hundreds of messages, Smokey will take on the fight. That's just who he is. He leads equally from the heart as from the brain. That's why he's the most visible, influential labour leader in the country. That's why I have come to admire and respect him.
That's why he's a target.
Friends, I close by offering best wishes to all the candidates who have put forth their names at this week's regional meetings.
If I can offer any advice it would be this: run for something, not against someone or something. It's always easier to throw stones than build foundations.
I ask that you put down the rock and pick up a trowel. Together, we will build something truly amazing.
Eduardo (Eddy) Almeida
First Vice-President/Treasurer, OPSEU