British Columbians have a hunger for change, says B.C. Federation of Labour president Jim Sinclair.
“There is a large majority of people ready for a change because after 12 years under the Liberals the province is going in the wrong direction,” Sinclair said while in Williams Lake Saturday. “People don’t agree on the change. Some people will vote for the Green Party, some people will vote for the Conservatives.”
If people really want a real change, they should vote for the NDP, he suggested.
“The NDP has said a number of things already. They’ve talked about education, about trades training, the taxation policy they are looking at and how they’re going to raise corporate taxes.”
There’s lots of time to discuss and debate the changes that need to take place, he added.
“What I’m saying to people is if they want change get involved. Fifty per cent of the people in the last election didn’t vote. That to me is a serious serious issue. We got what we got in this country because people did care and they did participate.”
Historically people were involved with the public discourse and it made a difference which government was elected.
It is still true today, but too many people are convinced governments are all the same, he added.
“They’ve never been all the same. Many of these parties never would have given us medicare or public education, or old age security. We never would have had all those things if there wasn’t a party or a group of people that said, ‘we can do that’.”
The public needs to have a debate about what kind of province it wants to have and how much opportunity should exist, he said, adding the labour movement wants balance in the province.
“We expect business to have a say when we’re at the table and that’s healthy. What we’ve had though, is that business is the only voice that’s been heard, they’ve had the dominant agenda.”
When one party gets heard too much then you have things like the HST or changes to the forest code that have allowed for “record” log exports, he suggested.
“Forty mills close, there are thousands of lay-offs, and the rules around appurtenancy are changed so no more logs are attached to sawmills anymore. All that stuff happened under the Liberals.”
There have been improvements for some people in the province Sinclair said.
“The commodity prices have gone up, the mining industry is doing fairly well thanks to China, and that’s good for the province. We’ve had negotiations with those mines and just finished negotiating successfully with Gibraltar so people can keep up with inflation.”
Those increases benefit everybody and stay in the local community benefitting businesses, everything.
People are upset about the temporary worker program, he said, adding the labour movement’s opposition is not about racism. It is about exploited workers.
“We’re not opposed to bringing workers to Canada to work, we’re just saying they should come with the right to bring their families, with the right to quit a job that’s unsafe, and the right to speak up, not be sent home. That’s a cheap labour strategy not a nation building strategy.”
Sinclair also criticized the $15 million of public money being spent on advertising what a great place B.C. is.
The money could be used to create jobs, he said.