No government can claim to be standing up for average Canadians if it is not willing to work with unions, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said in his address to Unifor’s Constitutional Convention today.
“The labour movement deserves fairness, not a government that sees it as an enemy,” Trudeau said.
“When Andrew Scheer spoke at a labour event in Ottawa recently, he couldn’t even say the word union. Canadians serve better. We all deserve better.”
This is not the first time Trudeau has spoken at a Unifor Convention. Three years ago, he pledged to delegates at the convention in Ottawa that his new government would work with Unifor and other unions to improve the lives of working Canadians.
“To have a strong middle class, you have to have strong unions.”
Soon after coming to power, Trudeau’s Liberals repealed the anti-union legislation brought in by the previous Stephen Harper Conservatives. When the North American Free Trade Agreement came up for renegotiation, Unifor played an active role.
“Millions of families were counting on us to get the new NAFTA right, and together we put the interests of Canadian workers at the very heart of our negotiating strategy,” he said.
Unifor National President Jerry Dias was a consultant to the Canadian negotiating team throughout the talks, which resulted in significant improvements to worker protections than those established in the original deal, including a requirement for major changes to Mexican labour laws.
“In other words, we created a new standard,” Trudeau said. “That, my friends, is the power of solidarity. That is the power of putting people first.”
Trudeau said the labour movement has a long history of standing up for fair wages, reasonable working hours, and safe workplaces and for women, LGBTQ workers, disabled workers and for Indigenous communities.
“You can continue to count on our government,” Trudeau said. “We know the only way we will make real progress is by investing in people – not by cutting services.”
The labour movement is vital to that effort, Trudeau said.