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CROSBY, Ont. – A provincial election campaign bus on tour from the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) Ontario has plowed too deep into the furrows of Eastern Ontario and hit a nerve with Ontario’s Liberal and Tory parties. Organizers of the International Plowing Match (IPM) reversed an earlier decision and banned the bus from appearing in the Plowing Match parade this morning in Crosby, Ontario.


CUPE Ontario driver Tony Christiano was told that the bus was being barred because of complaints that its message was ‘too political,’ this despite the fact that the parade was to feature floats from the Conservatives, Liberals and NDP. When Christiano challenged the IMP, he was told that they were ‘letting the NDP in’ but not CUPE Ontario. The bus, which features caricatures of Dalton McGuinty and John Tory on its sides with the slogans, ‘two sides of the same coin’ and ‘vote NDP on October 10,’ had been given the go-ahead to participate by IPM organizers at 6:50 a.m. this morning.


“Obviously, the fact that we are bringing key issues to the public and our members about how the Liberals and Tories have failed the people of Ontario is hitting a nerve,” said Fred Hahn, Secretary-Treasurer of CUPE Ontario on hearing the news of the ban. “Our 220,000 members, their families and communities are seeing the loss of good paying jobs, soaring tuition fees, reduced access to social services, rising municipal taxes, lack of standards of care for seniors in long-term care, and schools where parents have to fundraise to pay for basics. It was these parties’ policies that have created these conditions.”


Hahn says that CUPE Ontario’s campaign is addressing the disconnect that exists in what the Tories and Liberals are saying are the main issues, and what people know from their lived experience are the things they need government to address. “John Tory has decided that faith-based schools and attacks about McGuinty’s broken promises are ‘his’ campaign issues, as has McGuinty,” adds Hahn. “What Tory is not telling is how his tax cuts and search for $1.5 billion in ‘efficiencies’ will cut at the very heart of those public services already in dire straits because of his party’s slash-and-burn policies in the 1990s.”


Along with injecting humour into the election campaign, CUPE’s bus—with its huge caricatures of Tory with a fistful of dollars, and McGuinty with a Pinocchio long nose—is urging voters to put people first when they vote on October 10 by voting for the NDP. An accompanying poster, which tracks the three political parties’ track records on 10 key issues including jobs, poverty, equality, environment and protecting public services, has been wildly popular with the unions’ members and is now in its third printing.


“We’re seeing more CUPE members than ever volunteering on the election campaigns of NDP candidates, including the campaigns of 10 CUPE members running for the NDP,” adds Hahn. “Howard Hampton is making key commitments on issues like the minimum wage, fixing the school funding formula and reducing tuition fees, and that’s hitting home with working families and our members.”


Despite being rebuffed at the Plowing Match parade, CUPE Ontario’s bus will continue to take its message to towns and cities across the province in the coming weeks.




For further information or to interview Fred Hahn, contact:


Valerie Dugale            CUPE Communications                     647-225-3685