Twenty-two Canadian labour activists signed their names to the following letter, which calls on New Democrats to elect Timmins–James Bay MP Charlie Angus as their next leader:
Across Canada, labour is under pressure. The anti-labour forces are gathering behind the Liberal and Conservative parties to gut our rights to organize, to strike, and to support political change.
We are watching the anti-union right wing trying to build their support by promising to undermine and rewrite labour rights.
We had some wins at the federal level, but the Prime Minister flip-flopped on democratic reform and brought in legislation to turn back the clock on public pensions.
At the same time, we have an NDP Leadership race before us. The NDP breakthrough of 2011 was astounding and gave us all hope for change. We’ve done it once and we know that our party can do it again!
We aren’t just choosing the head of the party. We’re deciding, who do we trust to stand up against the corporate agenda in the next election? Who do we want debating the workers agenda and who will hold Trudeau to account in the House of Commons every day?
Who do we want as our next Prime Minister?
For us, long-time labour activists, the answer is clear: Charlie Angus.
Charlie has built a reputation as a straight talker who doesn’t back down from a fight. He has worked tirelessly to improve the lives of Indigenous peoples, stood up for Canadian culture, and personally worked on issues as diverse as homelessness and the environment.
Charlie comes from a working class background—the son and grandson of miners. His influences include his grandmother, who regularly reminded him that it was the NDP that created the pension system she was drawing on and that’s why he understands the issues facing Canadians today—homelessness, poverty, the need for childcare and homecare—which are struggles that especially impact women, Indigenous peoples, and racial minorities.
Charlie is addressing those issues in his platform. He knows that women workers across Canada will benefit from better pensions, increased minimum wage, and improved maternity leave benefits—and that all workers will be strengthened when we improve conditions for the most vulnerable.
His leadership platform is impressive. Just on labour issues, he’s calling to:
- increase the maximum amount for the Working Income Tax Benefit, and make it available to more low-income earners, including full-time workers;
- raise the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour, indexed to inflation;
- ensure that federal assistance to business is connected to creating and preserving jobs in Canada;
- protect pensions by fighting the Liberal Bill C-27;
- target corporate tax havens;
- reform labour laws and bring in anti-scab legislation;
- get Canadians back to work through modernized, consolidated and expanded skills development programs; and
- make EI more accessible by lowering the hours requirement for eligibility to 360.
With Charlie, no one will question his commitment to labour or to the NDP’s traditional values. No one will doubt his compassion for Canada’s most vulnerable people. He isn’t in this race just to win; he’s in it to make real changes for Canadians, to create a more just and more sustainable nation with a better-balanced economy that works for all of us, not just the wealthiest few.
Charlie never misses the opportunity to show his solidarity to workers, and he’s walked many picket lines with them, including the USW Local 6500 strike at Vale, where Charlie walked many times; the Unity for Our Community rally organized by the North Bay and District Labour Council in December, 2015, where he stood shoulder to shoulder with the leadership; with CEP at Abitibi-Consolidated in Thunder Bay and Iroquois Falls; and supported last year’s action for CUPE library workers in Essex County. Charlie is an honorary life-long member of Unifor Mine-Mill 598 for his work on mining issues.
We were all shocked by the audacity of Sears execs who told workers that the company couldn’t afford to honour pension and layoff commitments while paying themselves rich bonuses. Charlie was quick to respond, telling the media, “If elected NDP leader I will claw back every dime of bonuses paid to CEOS when they are laying off workers. I will close the loopholes that allow hedge fund operatives to get paid ahead of workers.”
Charlie understands that there is a class struggle in Canada right now. Workers are having their rights taken away, every day, by politicians and corporations who care only about their next quarter’s dividends. Who will speak up for the working class? Charlie Angus will, and he has a strong and able voice.
We want Charlie to become NDP Leader, and we need your help. First, if you aren’t currently a member of the Party, please visit www.charlienangusndp.ca/member and join immediately. The deadline to become a member is August 17 if you want a vote in the leadership race.
Second, please visit Charlie’s website and pledge your support.
Third, ask your friends and family to join the NDP and support Charlie, too. Every vote brings us closer to having a friend of labour as the next NDP leader.
Please get involved as soon as possible. The NDP has long been the only party to speak on behalf of workers. Let’s make sure our party continues to have a strong, credible voice that believes in the things we care about.
Yours in solidarity,
Robyn Benson - President, PSAC
Ken Georgetti - Past President, CLC; Past President, USW Local 480
Paul Moist - President Emeritus, CUPE National
Hemi Mitic - Labour Activist, Retired Unifor
Mary Shortall - President, NLFL
Stephen Waddell - Labour Activist
Burt Blundon - Secretary Treasurer, NLFL
Peter Olfert, - Retired Labour Activist
Myles Sullivan (on behalf of USW Northern Ontario Council)
Lorraine Sigurdson - Past President, MFL
Darlene Dziewit - Past President MFL, Past Negotiator UFCW Local 832
Roger Morin - President USW Local 2020
Patrick Hannon - CUPE Ontario, Executive Board Member
Andy Mitchell - (on behalf of UNIFOR Local 103)
Ellen Olfert - Retired Labour Activist
Anne Marie McGinnis - President, Unifor Mine Mill 598
James Ryan - Past President, OECTA
Michael MacIsaac - Past Executive Director CLC
Jamie West - President, Sudbury and District Labour Council
Henri Giroux - North Bay and District CUPE Council President
Linda MacKenzie-Nicholas - Long time Labour and Community Activist
Kathleen Jodouin - Recording Secretary, CUPE 4730