A sea of change swept through the convention centre in Montreal when over 4,800 union activists throughout the country gathered together for the 27th Canadian Labour Congress (CLC) convention from May 4-9.
The main topic on everybody’s mind was bringing new life to the labour movement. Conservative governments across Canada have been trying to pass new laws that make it much more difficult for unions to deliver quality contracts to their members.
Many delegates felt it was time for a change.
That’s one of the main reasons why delegates elected a new CLC president, Hassan Yussuff. Yussuff understands the challenges facing the Canadian labour movement – and what can be done to address them. He believes the CLC should create ground campaigns that transform members into political activists who take part in campaigns, protests and advocacy. He feels the CLC needs to be a stronger, more diverse and aggressive social movement that is willing to be bold and take risks.
There were also some great keynote speakers at the event. Federal NDP leader Thomas Mulcair delivered a rousing speech on the important role unions play in Canadian politics and in people’s lives. He said there has been a systematic attack on unions and collective agreements over the past few years by the Harper government that has contributed to the growing income gap between the rich and poor.
Susan Delacourt from the Toronto Star also spoke at the convention, addressing how politicians are beginning to treat voters not as citizens, but consumers. Voting and political participation has changed from a civic duty to instant gratification.
Speaker Frank Graves from Ekos Research painted a more positive outlook for organized labour. He said Canadians attitudes are shifting towards effective and activist governments over small government and tax cuts. He emphasized that labour needs to rebuild its trust in the public eye.
This year’s CLC convention was a step in that direction.