It's a cornerstone of progressive democracy, the balancing of the interests of labour versus capital. During the Harper years labour, especially organized labour, was treated like a disease. Abraham Lincoln addressed this endless struggle declaring that, of the two, labour was far the superior. Stephen Harper was no Abe Lincoln.
Which brings us to labour minister Patti Hadju.
The federal Liberal government delivered on one of its key 2015 election campaign promises last month when Bill C-4 came into effect, effectively repealing previous Conservative government legislation that was widely seen by organized labour as “union busting.”
“It’s critical that we have a strong labour movement for the prosperity of our country, and for the fair treatment of workers, which is the foundation of prosperity,” Labour Minister Patti Hajdu said in an interview with The Tyee in Vancouver Wednesday.
Hajdu says Bill C-4 is just one aspect of her office’s efforts to protect workers. It’s also working on changes to the federal labour code to protect people with precarious jobs from abuse, and plans to ensure government skills development programs and funding meet the needs of workers more likely to change jobs and careers than their parents were.
The current federal government is trying for a better relationship with the country’s labour unions, creating legislation that Hajdu said is informed by input from workers and employers.
“This government was elected on a promise to grow the middle class,” she said. And after speaking with union leaders on the campaign trail, “it became clear that [Bill C-4] had to be one of the first pieces of legislation that we introduced, because it was foundational to a strong and healthy organized labour movement.”
The Liberals put the legislation forward almost immediately after winning the 2015 election. But it took almost two years to get the legislation passed because of Conservative members of the Senate, Hajdu said.
Before the critics jump in, of course it's not perfect. Of course there is still a long way to go to rehabilitate Canada's middle class. But it is a damned good first step ahead after enduring a decade of Tory backsliding.
Kudos to minister Hadju.