Leadership: More than Words


Doug Ford is fond of self-promotion. He’s not so fond of telling the truth.

And everyone knows it.

Yet somehow he was elected Premier of Ontario?

Ford couldn’t become Toronto’s mayor. He was defeated by John Tory who ironically couldn’t win the Premiership when he led the Progressive Conservatives in 2007.

So just how does this happen?

Well, Tory won as Mayor because he was running against the tired Ford brand.

In 2014, Torontonians had clearly had enough of the circus at City Hall. 

“Ford Nation”, as they like to brand themselves was where it should have been … in full free fall.

Yet four years later, under a bizarre set of circumstances Patrick Brown is out as Tory leader, Ford is in and we now have a Premier who is about as popular as the last Liberal premier.

A recent survey by pollster Nik Nanos showed 7 out of 10 Ontarians oppose the Ford agenda and 9 out of 10 are afraid that the public services they rely on will be cut.

All of this happening under the banner of “For the People.”

So apparently “For the People” is not For the Workers.

The “People” are not students or children, the disabled, the poor, the sick, seniors or anyone else government is supposed to help?

Ford’s personal friends are doing well. Business elites are doing quite well.  Six figure consultants are thriving. And Ford insiders are cashing in on the privatization gravy train.

Let’s face it, the Tories won because Kathleen Wynne lost and because the ghost of Bob Rae premiership can still be successfully resurrected by right and left alike.

In 2022, the same rinse and wash cycle in politics will possibly produce a Liberal comeback.  What do you think?

The exact same thing is playing out at the federal level.

Most polls taken even before the SNC-Lavalin scandal show the Conservatives under Andrew Scheer are either running neck and neck or are slightly ahead of the Trudeau Liberals while the NDP trails far behind.

I suppose we could blame the nature of retail politics or the fact that people are just so busy, they can’t possibly keep up with a 24 hour news cycle, or maybe it’s the impact of social media.

Or maybe it’s the power of sloganeering. We have all heard it.

“Promise made. Promise kept,” “Make (someplace) great again,”  “Doing more with less,” “a path to balance,” etc, etc, etc.

Sadly the labour movement isn’t immune either.

“Take it to the streets.”  That’s an old stand by. Or how about: “Whose streets? Our streets!”

And perhaps the most desperate  – “we need more democracy.”

It’s interesting that both the right and left use that one for very different reasons with similar results.

The left pulls it out for addressing the manufactured narrative that there is a huge disconnect between the rank and file membership and fat cat union bosses.

The right uses it to attack the Rand formula and dues check off that somehow enriches…oh yeah fat cat union bosses.

In the end both groups are doing the same thing, attacking the last bastion for workers and communities, the labour movement. Our movement.

And that’s my point, why attack the very organization and the people fighting every day to protect workers’ interests?

So here’s my response to both. You’re not fooling anyone.

I, along with many of you reading this, was there on the lawn of Queen’s Park during the so-called riot of the 1996 OPS strike.

That day many of us jumped barricades and protected our friends from OPP batons.

Some were hurt. And some still wear the scars of that day.

 It was a piece of labour history.

And while on the subject, remember this year marks the 100th anniversary of the Winnipeg General Strike.

Fittingly, this year’s NUPGE convention will be held in Winnipeg, so that we can pay homage to those brave souls and their legacy that inspired a century of solidarity.

Labour gains were never accomplished through slogans and rhetoric.

They were won through hard work, diligence, blood, sweat, tears and by fighting smart.

Seventy seven years after Winnipeg, a powerful contingent of OPSEU activists put it all on the line on that day on the lawns of Queen’s Park.

And we were guided by one principle on that historic day.

We were there for the people. The real people. Our people.

For the union makes us strong.

And that my friends is the truth.

In solidarity,

Eduardo (Eddy) Almeida
First Vice-President / Treasurer
Ontario Public Service Employees Union

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