Thousands of OPSEU members took part in two telephone town halls on Wednesday to talk about the federal election. OPSEU President Warren (Smokey) Thomas fielded a wide variety of questions from members. He was joined by Canadian Labour Institute President James Clancy and Larry Brown, the President of the National Union of Public and General Employees.
Throughout the conversations, the presidents above all urged callers to get out and vote!
“It is our democratic obligation,” said Thomas. “The way I see voting, it is like exercise. If you want a healthy future, it’s just something that you have to do.”
Brown touched on the volume and nastiness of this election. The important thing, he said, is to inform yourself and vote with your conscience.
“Try to cut through the noise,” he told callers, pointing to a voter’s guide NUPGE has developed. OPSEU also has a guide available.
Clancy urged OPSEU members to vote for a party that reflects their values rather than focusing on a party they don’t like.
“Getting into things like strategic voting is a mug’s game,” said Clancy. “Look at the party platforms and vote for the party who best reflects your progressive values.”
Thomas reminded callers about the value of a single vote and that members need to come together in solidarity at the ballot box.
“Think about it like this: if each and every OPSEU member votes, that will be 165,000 votes from people who understand the value of strong public services.”
In all, 40 of the over 15,000 connected callers spoke directly to the presidents. Thomas left them all with reasons why this vote should be important to members.
“The federal government is a huge investor in the public services we provide. This year, for example, it has invested more than $15 billion in Ontario’s health care system. It has also invested more than $5 billion in what’s called the “Canada Social Transfer” to Ontario. And then there’s another $4 to $6 billion in things like infrastructure, training programs, and social housing. All told, we are getting $25 billion from the federal government this year.”