It’s the closest three-way race since the 1980s and the longest
election in over a century. If the building trades have their way, it will
also be Prime Minister Stephen Harper and his conservative party’s bon voyage.
Let’s Build Canada, a coalition of building trades, launched this year with two goals in mind for the election: educate their members and promote a pro-worker message to the voting public. And with 1.3 million people out of work, 200,000 more than before the recession, a lot is at stake.
Harper’s government has passed multiple anti-worker bills, including Bill C-377, which imposes heavy reporting obligations on unions, and C-525, which makes the union certification process harder but the decertification process easier for workers under the federal labour code. The coalition is hoping that the discontent they have been hearing can be channeled into action at the polls.
“A lot of people aren’t happy with the current government,” said Matt Wayland, political action/media strategist for the First District. “People are ready for change.”
Indeed, according to a poll commissioned for CTV news, 66 percent of Canadians say it is “time for a change in government.”
The CBC is reporting that the union-backed NDP party currently has the lead with 33 percent compared to the conservatives 30.9. Another poll from the Globe and Mail, however, predicts that the conservatives have a 61 percent chance of winning, but that a majority may be out of reach. The election is scheduled for Oct. 19.
Only 61 percent of Canadians voted in the last election, leaving opportunity to increase turnout this cycle. Older voters, those 65 years and older, comprise the largest voting bloc, with younger voters, those 18-35, turning out the least. That 18-35 group is growing and the party that can reach them will have a substantial advantage in future elections.
Let’s Build Canada is focusing on three issue areas: investing in infrastructure, creating good jobs, and building fairness and equality. Considering that one in every 14 Canadians works in the construction trades, and that the population is expected to grow, infrastructure investment is a major issue. Modernizing Canada’s infrastructure is expected to require approximately 320,000 new skilled construction workers, which means opportunities for Canadians to learn a trade with a good wage. And with income inequality on the rise, skilled union jobs are one of the best ways to decrease the disparity between the richest and the rest.
The site will soon offer a section where business managers can log in and access a kit with member-to-member oriented items like hardhat stickers, posters, lawn signs and fliers. In addition, Let’s Build Canada is planning a social media push this month, with advertising to come after Labour Day. The goal is to reach as many members as possible and drive home the message that voting union matters. With so many trades coming together and speaking with a consistent message on core issues, the group is hoping that will amplify their reach and resonance.
“Instead of just playing in our own sandbox, we are working collaboratively and using the same message, one that fits all sectors and members,” Wayland said.
The coalition is non-partisan, so no endorsements will be made. Members can access information on the parties and their records by way of the LBC website. Visitors can also find images and other information to share on social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter. For those looking to get more involved, the coalition is asking members to take a work selfie (at their worksite if possible) with an LBC sticker visible and share it for use in upcoming voter outreach.
LBC coalition unions include the IBEW, the Plumbers, the Ironworkers, the International Union of Painters and Allied Trades and the International Association of Sheet Metal, Air, Rail and Transportation Workers. Click here to read more about the “Let’s Build Canada” campaign.