from the Canadian Auto Workers
Canadian Auto Workers President Buzz Hargrove this evening expressed relief that Stephen Harper's Conservatives did not win a majority mandate from Canadian voters, and called on the three opposition parties to present a united front against the Conservatives to prevent the more extreme elements of Harper's program. (Hargrove will discuss his proposal further on Tuesday morning in an interview broadcast on CBC Radio's "The Current".)
"The Conservatives won just over one-third of the votes, and fell well short of winning a majority government, thanks to the objections of most Canadians to their right-wing program," Hargrove stated. "They have no mandate to proceed with their planned remaking of Canada. The other three parties have the power to stop them, and they must move quickly to use that power."
Hargrove suggested that the three centre and left parties (the Liberals, the NDP and the Bloc Quebecois) sign a joint pact that would identify the crucial progressive priorities to protect under a Conservative minority government. This list would include:
Renewing the new federal-provincial funding agreements for child care
Maintaining Canada's participation in the Kyoto Protocol
Implementing the federal government's $5 billion commitment to improve living standards in aboriginal communities
Finalizing the bankruptcy protection legislation for workers that was working its way through Parliament when the election was called
Preventing further privatization of health care
Following through with planned fiscal transfers to cities for public transit and urban infrastructure projects
No dismantling of the gun registry
No participation in US anti-ballistic defense systems or any international military initiatives other than those sanctioned by the United Nations
Preventing any new Commons vote on women's right to abortion or equal marriage rights for gays and lesbians
Continuing support for Canada's key industries, including respecting commitments made by the previous government to the auto and aerospace sectors
The three centre and left parties would indicate immediately that they would collectively defeat the government over a failure to respect any of these priorities. "These priorities are central to the vision of Canada that most Canadians share," Hargrove said, "and Stephen Harper has no mandate to start dismantling that vision."
If a Harper government fell as a result of this united action by the opposition parties, then Hargrove suggested that the Governor-General must call on the opposition parties to attempt to form a centre-left coalition government.
Right from the beginning of the election campaign, Hargrove warned consistently of the dangers of a Conservative victory. More recently he joined with other prominent advocates of social and economic justice — such as leaders of environmental, equal rights, pro-choice, and child care organizations — in urging Canadians to reject Harper's vision. Tory support, which polled as high as 42 percent in the second week of January, declined by several points in the days leading up to the election.
"This election is just the beginning of our campaign to save the Canada we love, not the end," Hargrove pledged.
Hargrove congratulates NDP Leader Jack Layton for increasing his party's representation from 19 MPs in 2004 to 29 today. All but one of the elected NDP candidates had been endorsed by the national CAW. (In English Canada, the CAW endorsed 43 NDP candidates who were either incumbents or had a strong chance of winning; in other ridings, the CAW urged Canadians to vote for the candidate with the best chance of defeating or stopping the Conservative.)
Hargrove was thrilled by the election of his assistant Peggy Nash (in Parkdale-High Park) and also congratulated incumbents Peter Stouffer (in Sackville-Eastern Shores) and David Christopherson (Hamilton-Centre) who are CAW members. Hargrove also congratulates Windsor-area MPs Joe Comartin and Brian Masse, who were re-elected with the CAW's full support. "Joe and Brian have done a superb job for their constituents, for the auto industry and for the country, and their re-election is richly deserved," said the CAW President.
URL 1: www.caw.ca/index.asp
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