Working Canadians, an anti-labour group that has sprung up just in time for an anticipated spring election in Ontario, is getting some blowback from real working Canadians who sniffed out the astroturf campaign.
The group claims to be a bunch of non-partisan "volunteer individuals concerned that union leaders have too much influence over government, drive up taxes, debt and deficits and make it harder for people and business to get ahead and create jobs." But it’s really a shell of its main financial backer -- Merit Canada, an organization representing anti-union employers in the construction business.
The goal of Merit Canada and its ally, the Canadian Federation of Independent Business, is much broader than pushing down wages in the trades. If legislation seeks to attack collective bargaining rights and push down middle-class wages, you can be sure Merit Canada and CFIB are there to cheer it on. Ditto for any campaign to boost the minimum wage or to press for retirement security for everyone through strong pensions and an expanded CPP.
In the immediate, though, the astroturf group is pushing for, in the words of spokeswoman Catherine Swift (who happens to be chair of the CFIB board of directors), "widespread open tendering of contracts so non-unionized shops [can] more easily bid on public contracts."
This just happens to be what Tim Hudak’s Conservatives are pushing for as part of a sweeping plan to strip unions of their ability to represent workers. The point is to weaken them so they can’t fight for fair wages that benefit all workers.
But when Swift (@Swiftie01) took the "Working Canadians" campaign message to Twitter, real working Canadians just weren’t buying it. That’s the rub about astroturf campaigns: the #workingcanadians shell is so easily exposed.
Photo: pluckytree. Used under a Creative Commons BY-ND 2.0 licence.