CALM sent the same questions and instructions to each of the four candidates running to be the next leader of Canada's NDP. Click here to read the responses from Team Singh, Team Caron and Team Ashton.
(current Member of Parliament for Timmins-James Bay)
CALM: Describe your relationship to the labour movement.
Charlie Angus: I have always been close to the labour movement. I come from a union family, and worked with the Steelworkers in the 1990s documenting organizing battles in the mines of Northern Ontario and the efforts of the miners to fight for health, safety and decent conditions.
CALM: What labour struggle (of past or present) are you most inspired by?
CA: I find inspiration in many battles our brothers and sisters in the labour movement have fought over the years, but the 1941-2 Kirkland Lake gold miners’ strike is close to my heart. Not only is it a story of Northern Ontarians standing up not just for their rights, but the rights of all Canadian workers. The strike paved the way for collective bargaining legislation, and is a reminder that working people always have to keep fighting for our rights.
CALM: What is the most important piece(s) of your platform that will help non-unionized workers?
CA: Non-unionized workers lack the power and economic security that many unionized workers have. My proposal to give workers the legal right to relaunch a closing business as a worker cooperative would empower many workers in their workplaces, and give them a much greater degree of security and control over their and their community’s economic futures. I would also make changes to bankruptcy legislation that would protect workers from being cheated out of their severance and pensions by corporate asset-strippers. They should be at the front of the line.
CALM: How do you think the relationship between the federal NDP and labour would evolve with you as leader? What’s the role of the NDP when it comes to working with the labour movement to defend workers’ rights?
CA: I think that the NDP needs a renewed and strengthened relationship with its brothers and sisters in the labour movement. As life gets more precarious for the new working class, for young and racialized workers especially, we need both a strong political party that fights for their interests in Parliament as well as a strong labour movement that fights for their interests in the workplace. We need both, and we need to work together closely to be as effective as possible.
CALM: As leader of the NDP, you would first sit in Parliament in opposition. Which piece or pieces of legislation proposed by Justin Trudeau’s Liberals do you think will harm working people the most?
CA: In the fall, the NDP will have to lead the fight on two fronts especially: C-27 and NAFTA renegotiation. C-27 would allow employers to retroactively change the structure of workers’ pensions, which is completely unacceptable. Pensions are deferred wages, and we need to make sure that workers get paid what they are owed. NAFTA renegotiation has the potential to be a feeding frenzy for lobbyists and a nightmare for workers: Justin Trudeau, Brian Mulroney and Donald Trump sitting down at a table to hammer out a deal doesn’t sound like it will end well for workers. We have to make sure that renegotiation doesn’t leave workers worse off, and protects our government’s ability to make policy for the benefit of Canadians.