Today, Hassan Yussuff has made history as the first person to defeat a sitting president of the Canadian Labour Congress (CLC). Yussuff is also the first person of colour to hold the office of leader of the CLC.
Yussuff defeated outgoing President Ken Georgetti by just 40 votes. Georgetti had been president for 15 years. Yussuff joined the CLC in 2002 as the Secretary-Treasurer.
Shortly after the results were made public, Georgetti passed a motion to have the vote counted as a unanimous one in favour of Yussuff, greeting the president-elect and raising their hands in solidarity at the podium.
The new President ran on a campaign of change, promising to bring grassroots action back to the CLC. A third presidential nominee, Hassan Husseini, dropped out of the race earlier in the week in order to back Yussuff’s bid for presidency.
Chants of solidarity were heard throughout the convention hall in Montreal as Yussuff’s supporters rushed to embrace the new president.
In his first speech after the election, Yussuff re-affirmed his commitment to working towards a more inclusive and mobilized labour movement. He also sent a clear message to Prime Minister Stephen Harper – that the CLC will not bridge any more attacks on labour law in Canada.
NDP leader Thomas Mulcair spoke at the convention before the winner was announced. He said that the CLC and NDP would continue to work closely to advance a progressive agenda in Canada.
“We have, for the first time, a government that is actively attacking organized labour,” he said after his speech, referencing recent federal bills like Bill C-377. “They’ve been trying to put all sorts of sticks in the spokes of the union movement. It’s a direct attack on rights that are guaranteed under the Charter.”
Liberal leader Justin Trudeau also offered his congratulations’ to Yussuff over Twitter after the election.
Minister of Employment, Jason Kenney, also tweeted his congratulations to the new President, and thanks to Ken Georgetti for his service.
In other CLC election news, Barbara Byers defeated Nathalie Stringer to be named the secretary-treasurer of the CLC. There were just over 2,000 votes cast for both candidates, indicating that over half of the delegates who attended the morning presidential vote had left.
Byers reaffirmed her support for Yussuff and promised to fight for every single member of the CLC. Similar to Georgetti, Stringer successfully motioned to have the vote recorded as unanimous in Byers favour.
Marie Clarke Walker was re-elected to her position of executive vice-president. Donald Lafleur is the new face on the national executive board. He had the most votes of any of the executive vice-president candidates, with 1,265 votes in his favour.
We will post further updates about the CLC elections as they develop.