With a new government in Ottawa, more than 70 Unifor activists from across Canada traveled to Ottawa recently to meet with the Prime Minister, cabinet ministers, Opposition Leaders and MPs, and senior government advisors.
“Unifor will be incredibly active during the life of the 42nd Parliament,” Unifor National President Jerry Dias said.
“Defeating the Harper government was good, but we need to keep the new Liberal government focused on improving the lives of all working people in this country.”
Dias led the delegation of more than 70 Unifor activists to Ottawa on February 3 and 4 to meet MPs and staff from both government and opposition to discuss a wide variety of issues, from manufacturing to labour law reform to Missing and Murdered Aboriginal Women and Girls to the Canada Pension Plan.
“Unifor is a social union. Our concerns extend far beyond the shop floor and the bargaining table,” Dias said.
“Issues such as violence against women, tax policy, Aboriginal issues, and health care have a tremendous impact on the lives of all working people, so Unifor needs to be active on these issues.”
One of the first meetings was with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, attended by Dias, Atlantic Regional Director Lana Payne, BC Regional Director Joie Warnock and Scott Doherty, Executive Assistant to the National President.
The group discussed the Trans Pacific Partnership and other trade deals, manufacturing, labour laws, the Canada Pension Plan, health care and more – issues that would be raised at meetings throughout the week.
“We need trade deals that help Canadian workers,” Dias said in a meeting with Elder Marquis, chief of staff to Innovation, Science and Economic Development Minister Navdeep Bains.
Several participants, including Dias, commented that after 10 years of being shut out of Ottawa under Harper, the new government showed throughout the lobby days a willingness to listen and consult.
In a meeting with NDP Leader Thomas Mulcair, Dias stressed the need to hold the government to account, especially since it had made so many promises during the election about helping ordinary Canadians.
The activists gathered after all the meetings were finished to compare notes and plan for ways to continue the work started during the lobby days throughout the life of the government.
“This is just the start of the conversation,” said Unifor Political Action and Member Mobilization Director Roland Kiehne. “We are going to be very active.”