As if we needed it, Doug Ford gave us a bit of a glimpse into the divisive campaign he plans to run as he leads the Progressive Conservative Party into the Ontario election in June, by naming Kory Teneycke as his campaign manager.
Ford likes to portray himself as out to help the little guy, regularly railing against "elites" and claiming to give voice to ordinary working folks, even though he's a millionaire, running a company he inherited from his wealthy and politically connected father.
By appointing failed media mogul and former Stephen Harper spokesperson Teneycke to run his election campaign, Ford puts the lie to his populist image, due to Teneycke's backward views on unions and the laws that protect workers.
As quoted in The Globe and Mail, Teneycke said, "Labour laws and unions are a central factor in losses in the manufacturing sector. One only needs to look at the tale of General Motors and Chrysler to see a perfect example of that problem, and it's not something that you see a lot of politicians of any stripe taking on directly."
Maybe other politicians aren't taking on this view because it's so patently wrong. In fact, it's thanks to unions that we still have an auto sector in Canada, and because of unions that each of the Detroit Three automakers are expanding Canadian operations. Unifor, for example, made investment in Canada the top priority of our 2016 bargaining with the three companies, a strategy that resulted in $1.6 billion in investment commitments.
The simple fact is that under the federal Conservatives — the people Teneycke dedicated much of his life to getting into and keeping in power — manufacturing was devastated in this country, leading to thousands of job losses.
The real culprit for the loss of manufacturing jobs was the regressive trade policies of the Stephen Harper government that pandered to corporations, while ignoring the needs of working people.
Corporations, executives and shareholders got rich while the lives of working people, families and Ontario communities were torn apart under the guise of free trade, as workers in one country were pitted against those of another.
The feeble excuses Teneycke offers for the loss of manufacturing jobs only hurt our families and destroy the next generation's hope of a decent future, all on the chance that we might make big corporations happy enough to stick around.
In the age of Donald Trump and with the Conservatives ahead in the polls, there's a real chance Teneycke can help Ford gain power by tapping into anger of workers hurt by corporations and the 1 per cent in the coming election.
We cannot allow that to happen. Over the next few months, it's imperative that progressive voices speak out, remind voters of the important role of unions and public services, and articulate why working together for a brighter future matters.