OTTAWA—For countless unions, industry associations, environmental groups and NGOs that have had difficulty working with the Harper Conservatives over the past decade, Monday’s election results were an enormous relief. And the Canadian Union of Public Employees—Canada’s largest union—is no exception.
“Stephen Harper’s regressive decade of divisive, anti-democratic politics is over,” Paul Moist, national president of CUPE, said. “Harper’s agenda was ruthless: painful cuts to public services and programs that all Canadians depend on, paired with massive tax breaks for the richest individuals and most profitable corporations. Canadians have spoken and Harper’s agenda has been soundly rejected.”
By electing Justin Trudeau’s Liberals, voters have signaled strong support for enhancements to the Canada Pension Plan, and ushered in a new chapter in the federal-provincial relationship, the union said.
“The Liberals have also recognized the incredible infrastructure deficit that is part of the Harper government’s dismal legacy for Canada,” Moist said. “It is time to deal with that deficit – but these next years are an opportunity to ensure that infrastructure is funded publicly. Municipal and provincial governments ought not to be in a position where they are forced to privatize assets such as water and waste water treatment systems or sports arenas just so that they can afford to upgrade them.”
In recognizing the new government, CUPE also saluted NDP leader Thomas Mulcair, saying he took a “principled position” throughout the campaign as he championed workers’ rights.
Whether the result of sweeping support, Conservative disfavour, strategic voting, or a combination those and other factors, the Liberals will have a clear mandate when they form a government in the coming weeks. Meanwhile, CUPE has pledged to hold the new majority in parliament to its promises.
“We look forward to working more productively with the new government than we have been able to do in the past decade,” Moist said.