Why can't we be friends?

Yesterday, The Globe and Mail's Justine Hunter reported, "When B.C. New Democrats gather in Vancouver this weekend for their biennial convention, things will look a little different: This will be the first time in the party's history that its union affiliates have been discouraged from sitting, working and voting as a bloc." Indeed, the labour movement is occupying just three tables on the convention floor. But, in his speech to party members, British Columbia Federation of Labour president stressed the interests that unite New Democrats and union members - from old age security to Medicare.

Stated Mr. Sinclair, "Not one of these things - not a single one of these achievements - would be enjoyed today anwhere in this country if we did not have a labour movement and a CCF and a NDP. Every one of these things came as a result of minority governments in Canada where the CCF or the NDP...held the balance of power or the election of a CCF or NDP government provincially. Everyone one of these demands that we have won - or are still fighting for in some cases - was also a political demand going back almost a century of something called the labour movement who mobilized for decades to win them."

Referring specifically to the fight for Medicare, Mr. Sinclair said, "Could the labour movement have done this alone - absolutely not. Could any party of the left have done it without working people? Absolutely not. Let's be clear today - the labour movement is not the NDP. Let's be clearer - the NDP is not the labour movement." Indeed, Mr. Sinclair acknowledged the New Democrats and unions don't always agree. But, he said, "Ask yourself this: how could a party representing the needs of working people not have a relationship to the trade union movement?" - later adding it's "going to take a whole lot of solidarity" to defeat the Campbell administration.

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