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October 11, 2007

With its highly visible campaign and media conferences, CUPE Ontario and its members played a major role in forcing the McGuinty government to defend public services during the provincial election.

“From long-term care standards to opposing private health clinics to putting more money into public education, our unrelenting campaigns on these issues over the past year forced McGuinty to adopt positions favourable to our members in order to get re-elected,” said CUPE Ontario Secretary-Treasurer Fred Hahn. “And we will be very present over the next term of the Legislature to hold McGuinty’s feet to the fire on all the positions he has taken regarding public services.”

This year was CUPE Ontario’s largest campaign ever for a political election. With close to two dozen area leadership meetings, campaign materials and a touring campaign bus visiting communities across the province, CUPE Ontario met its goal of putting public services, and key issues like poverty, good jobs and the environment, onto the election agenda with the public.

“We are most proud of the fact that 11 CUPE members and representatives chose to run as NDP candidates in the election,” adds Hahn. “We are most grateful for their hard work, dedication and championing of issues that are most important to working people.” These candidates included (list) Sid Ryan (Oshawa), Henry Bosch (St. Catharines), Ric Dagenais (Ottawa-Vanier), John Grima (Essex), Henri Giroux (Nipissing), Shaila Kirbria (Mississauga- Erindale), Pauline Kulhmann (Leeds-Grenville), Gail McCabe (Mississauga-Streetsville), Nigel Moses (Whitby-Oshawa), Catherine Robinson (Durham) and Antoni Shelton (York West).

The NDP held on to 10 seats and increased its popular vote; however, the collapse of the Conservative vote allowed the McGuinty Liberals to win a majority government. “While this was not the outcome we would have wanted, CUPE Ontario is in the political arena for the long haul. That’s the only way we, and our members, can continue to win change at the legislative level.”

CUPE Ontario: unprecedented coverage during election

With its campaign bus and almost daily media releases, CUPE Ontario had the most highly visible union presence in the election, forcing media and voters to confront issues important to working people that the Liberals and Tories weren’t focused on.

“Our issues gained significant TV, radio and newspaper coverage in every town visited by our election bus,” said Fred Hahn, CUPE Ontario Secretary-Treasurer. “Our focus on poverty, jobs, the environment and public service issues—from the faulty school funding formula to soaring tuition fees, to underfunding of municipal and social services and health care privatization—hit a cord with the media and voters.”

Along with visits by the bus to cities and communities across the province, CUPE Ontario also held media conferences on short-staffing in long-term care, underfunding of Educational Assistants, and keeping municipal water in public hands as key election issues. CUPE Ontario was also a major sponsor of the October 1 Vote Out Poverty rally, which forced the political parties to respond with their plans to address the issue.