Winning for Workers: CLC Election Training 2019

On Saturday, September 7, members from local unions gathered in a Toronto union hall to attend the Canadian Labour Congress' first (of many!) election campaign trainings in preparation for the 2019 Federal Election. The theme: how to participate in an election campaign that wins for workers.

The meeting began with greetings from labour leaders:

John Cartwright, president of the Toronto & York Region Labour Council (TYRLC),  opened the meeting with an acknowledgement of Indigenous Lands, spoke about the necessity of resisting harmful anti-immigration rhetoric, and highlighted the importance of immediate climate action: "There are no jobs on a dead planet."

Patty Coates, Secretary-Treasurer of the Ontario Federation of Labour (OFL), spoke about the importance of in-person conversations with voters, especially in a highly digitized and highly polarizing world. One of the distinguishing features of election campaigning today is that so much of the conversation is happening online, rather than in person through door-knocking-- a face-to-face conversation can make all the difference.

Hassan Yussuff, President of the Canadian Labour Congress (CLC), framed his remarks around the accomplishments of the Canadian labour movement since the Harper government as well as the stakes for working people in the coming election.

Some of labour's accomplishments include: expanding retirement security, pushing back against unfair labour legislations, banning asbestos, securing pay equity legislation, supporting survivors of domestic violence, creating a Just Transition Task Force to make recommendations to support workers affected by climate change policies, and strengthening union-based apprenticeship training.

"We've never been closer in the history of our country to achieving single-payer Pharmacare, but we need to keep pushing." -- Hassan Yusseff.

In addition to these substantial victories, the Canadian Labour Congress is looking to five key areas to build a Fair Canada for everyone:

  • Pharmacare
  • Retirement Security
  • Good Jobs
  • Climate Action
  • Equity and Inclusion

Overall, the educators focused on the strengths and weaknesses of each federal political party and commented on their ability to support working class people and socially progressive values.

The key messaging was this: democracy only happens with participation. In order to encourage participation, we need to remember that voters want to be informed and respected. A campaigners' job, then, is to help workers vote in their own self-interest.

When it came time for door-knocking skills building training, participants were paired up with each other to role-play a door-knocking scenario. There was a great deal of assurance from the more seasoned political campaigners in the room; door-knocking, especially when done in pairs, can be a meaningful (and enjoyable!) way to spend an evening or a weekend afternoon. 

Due to new election laws, there was no officially sponsored door-knocking following the event. But, there was sincere encouragement for all who attended to seek out progressive candidates in their ridings and to help elect candidates who will fight for workers and for social change.

The election will be held on October 21, 2019. How will you get involved?