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Building Trades Leaders Meet with New Canadian Prime Minister

Journal: Issue 1 - 2016
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau snaps a selfie with Canadian Director Craig Strudwick.

In one of his first acts as Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau met with leaders of Canada’s Building Trades Unions to hear their views on a host of issues, including the welcome repeal of Bill C-377, which imposed costly reporting requirements on all labour organizations and was little more than a thinly disguised scheme to turn members against their unions.

Canadian Regional Director Craig Strudwick represented BAC at the meeting with the new Prime Minister, who led the Liberal Party to a sweeping parliamentary victory last October. As a result of their discussions, Brother Strudwick says that on the all-important topics of wages and infrastructure investment, “I’m encouraged on several fronts – first, that the Fair Wage Act will be put back in place on all Federal projects. Second, is the new administration’s strong commitment to investing $160 billion over the next ten years in Canada’s infrastructure; and third, that these projects, which are expected to be covered by the Fair Wage Act, will create many, many good paying jobs.” Yet another bright spot on the horizon for skilled construction workers was the Prime Minister’s pledge fund to training centers.

The infrastructure conversation extended to the energy sector, including refineries and pipelines. Because of the erosion of trust among Canadians – engendered by the previous Harper government – in the system used to evaluate and approve related projects, noted Brother Strudwick. “Labour must work with the new government to rebuild this trust and to be a voice for progressive policies—and take back the field from the ‘anti-everything’ group,” he said. “We need to be engaged, involved and show we are a credible resource that can be relied upon and trusted.”

By meeting with trade union leaders so soon after his election, Justin Trudeau sent a clear signal that he values the concerns and viewpoints of organized labour.

The Prime Minister also proudly revealed that he had visited the ongoing restoration project taking place at Parliament’s West Block, where BAC Local 7 Canada members have been hard at work (see Journal Issue 1, 2014 and Issue 3, 2015). Trudeau shared that he had wanted to visit the project for some time but joked, “I had to get elected as Prime Minister to gain access.” Trudeau was very impressed with the project and in particular, the craftsmanship of BAC members.

Seated from left, Darrell LaBoucan (Ironworkers), Roy Finley (Teamsters), Cory Channon (Boilermakers), Teamsters Canada President François Laporte, Ben McIntyre (Elevator Constructors), James Jackson (Sheet Metal Workers); standing, from left, Larry Cann (UA/Plumbers), Lionel Railton (Operating Engineers), Richard Wassill (Plasterers and Cement Masons), Steve Schumann (Operating Engineers), Joe Mancinelli (Labourers), Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Chief Operating Officer of Canada’s Building Trades Unions Robert Blakely, Fred Clare (Insulators), Bob Kucheran (Painters), and BAC Canadian Director Craig Strudwick.

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