Happy Labour Day!

September 5, 2016


Earlier today I was invited by the Halifax-Dartmouth and District Labour Council to speak at the Labour Day event on the Halifax Commons. I want to share with our Party what I said to everybody who attended that rally, march and barbecue.

Happy Labour Day–the day when we celebrate the people who do things. And it’s a great time for that, because there are some important things we’re needing to be doing.
…Like getting a government in Nova Scotia that’s got something in its head besides cutting back, pruning back, and taking things away. How about the wonderful McNeil Liberal innovation for 2016: cut back on the programs, diet, maintenance and staff (as unbelievable as it sounds) at nursing homes? Yes, nursing homes! Northwood, half a million; Oceanview and St. Vincent’s, approximately $130,000 each; Melville Lodge, a couple of hundred thousand. No wonder they’ve tried to cover it up! They should cover themselves up.

…Like getting a government that doesn’t make a bad situation worse, as this one is doing by continuing to advertise in the Chronicle Herald during the ongoing Herald strike. I say this as the Leader of a Party who have just come through a by-election in this city when every time the Chronicle Herald requested an interview, we said, “Sorry, but we don’t offer comment to scab publications,” and every time the Herald looked for a media release, we said, “Sorry, we don’t put scab publications on our release list.” And I’m proud to say that Lisa Roberts won a decisive victory in that campaign in Halifax Needham without one iota of compromise on this basic principle of right and wrong.

…Like getting a government that respects democracy enough to negotiate a contract with the 75,000 nurses, teachers and others in the public service, instead of imposing a two-year wage freeze with the gun of Bill 148 to the head of the entire Nova Scotia public sector. Something’s wrong somewhere when it’s a wage freeze for those who actually do the work, while in the Premier’s inner office, they’re jimmying up contracts with salary increases greater than a person makes in a whole year on minimum wage in Nova Scotia.

We can do so much better than all of this. We can have a $15 minimum wage. We can tear down tuition barriers to post-secondary education. Instead of cutting, we can be investing–first and foremost, in no longer having to feed 13,000 of the children of our province out of food banks.

But none of this can be accomplished by snapping our fingers, or by wishing, or by scanning the horizon for something magic. It requires putting our shoulders together to the wheel of our great movement for social, environmental and economic justice.That’s the movement we celebrate today.  Happy Labour Day!

In solidarity and hope,