Skip to content →

Three thousand five hundred challenge McGuinty Liberals

DECEMBER 7, 2004: TORONTO – In the first big labour mobilization since Dalton McGuinty’s Liberals took office, just over one year ago, almost 4,000 trade unionists marched to Queen’s Park November 27 under the slogan, “times up, keep your promises, Dalton.”[1]

While there have been pro-labour changes under the Liberals – including “a rollback of the 60-hour work week (implemented by the Tories) and a hike in the minimum wage (frozen by the Tories)”, there is frustration at the slow pace of rolling back other of the anti-labour measures introduced by Mike Harris. In addition, labour leaders in the health care sector are concerned about “the continued talk by cabinet ministers about outsourcing the jobs of hospital workers”.[2]

The fact that organized labour was finally back on the streets was a great sign. And some of the contingents which marched in from their rallying points were impressive. Members of OPSEU (the Ontario Public Service Employees Union), the Steelworkers and others arrived at Queen’s Park in contingents of several hundred, boisterous and militant. All who were there were very open to the anti-war activists who had come to leaflet for the big protests against George Bush.

There was one noticeable absence. There was no big presence of the Canadian Auto Workers (CAW). Some individual CAW members were present, but no big contingent. For some years now, the CAW has not been a member of the Ontario Federation of Labour (OFL) and this was an OFL-sponsored rally.

This is a shameful situation. CAW leaders should have mobilized for this rally, even though it was an OFL event. And OFL leaders have to bend over backwards to incorporate the CAW, whether or not the union is paying dues to the OFL.

We need unity in the workers’ movement.

© 2004 Paul Kellogg. This work is licensed under a CC BY 4.0 license.


[1] Terry Moore, “Labour to McGuinty: Keep Your Word,” The Guelph Mercury, November 20, 2004, sec. Opinions. Moore’s article indicated that “rally organizers are hoping for a crowd of up to 10,000, providing it isn’t raining or snowing.”

[2] Ian Urquhart, “Liberals Lose Some of Their Union Allies; Government No Longer Seen as Labour-Friendly,” Toronto Star, November 27, 2004, sec. National Report. In the original, this paragraph talked about the “Tory face of the Liberals” without mentioning their reversal of Harris-era labour laws.

Published in Archive