The BC Federation of Labour has reaffirmed its support for the New Democratic Party and will actively oppose strategic voting in the upcoming federal election.
Heated debate took place last week at the Federation’s annual convention, after a resolution opposing strategic voting was put forward by a delegate from the Canadian Union of Public Employees.
“The BC Fed has long supported the New Democratic Party.” said newly elected BCFL president Irene Lanzinger, “We take the position as an organization that they are the party that best represents and shares the values of the labour movement and our affiliates.”
However, Lanzinger added, “it's important to point out that we are a federation of affiliates. They have their own approaches to political action and their own strategies. That's great and we don't interfere with those strategies.”
Lanzinger says those opposed to the motion were not objecting to the BCFL’s continued support of the NDP. Rather, the dissenters wanted to ensure that the Federation’s affiliated unions would still have autonomy when it came to determining their own political action programs.
“Our affiliates, as they should, make their own decisions about their strategies,” said Lazinger, “Our role is to coordinate unions to get their members engaged in the election, to get them supporting candidates who will support the values of the labour movement. We say that's the NDP, and generally speaking, our affiliates agree with that, but they take very different approaches to political action.
Rod Mickleburgh, the only labour reporter present at the convention, reported that Unifor’s BC Area Direct Gavin McGarrigle spoke out against the resolution, stating “I will never stand by and see Stephen Harper win another election [...] If there are aliens from another planet who can defeat the Conservatives, I’ll vote for those aliens.”
Debates around electoral strategies are ongoing and contentious in the labour movement. Though the NDP has long been considered Canada’s labour party, they have not always had labour's unconditional support.
The Canadian Labour Congress has yet to announce what strategy they will be advocating in the upcoming election.
Ella Bedard is rabble.ca's labour intern. She has written about labour issues for Dominion.ca and the Halifax Media Co-op and is the co-producer of the radio documentary The Amelie: Canadian Refugee Policy and the Story of the 1987 Boat People.
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