McGuinty no better than Harris Tories says UFCW Canada President
TORONTO, January 14, 2009 — The McGuinty government’s decision to appeal a landmark November 2008 ruling that upheld the collective bargaining rights of Ontario farm workers “is cynical politics, played out on the backs of these workers to protect the privileges and special interests of the agriculture lobby,” says Wayne Hanley, the National President of UFCW Canada.
“Dalton McGuinty has taken a page right out of the Mike Harris playbook. He’s more interested in scoring political points than doing the right thing.”
On Tuesday, the McGuinty government confirmed its intention to file an application for Leave to Appeal with the Supreme Court of Canada — asking it to hear arguments to overturn a November 17, 2008 decision by the Court of Appeal of Ontario.
That November 2008 Ontario ruling struck down Ontario's Agricultural Employees Protection Act (AEPA), citing that the Act’s prohibition on farm unions violated the Freedom of Association Charter rights of Ontario agriculture workers. The court ordered the McGuinty government, by November 2009, to provide Ontario farm workers with sufficient legislative protections to enable them to bargain collectively like other workers in the province.
The Liberal government's decision to appeal that ruling, “means they are no better than the Harris government when it comes to respecting these workers' rights,” said Hanley — the leader of the union which has led the campaign to restore the rights of Ontario agriculture workers.
“McGuinty is acting like it is 1995 all over again, when one of the first things Mike Harris did as Premier was to strip farm workers of their rights to unionize. In 2001, the Supreme Court ruled that was unconstitutional. In 2007, the Supreme Court again ruled that the right to collective bargaining is protected by the Charter. The November 2008 Ontario decision also pointed to those Supreme Court rulings,” added Hanley.
“To attempt to drag this issue back to the highest court in the land again, shows total disrespect for Ontario’s farm workers — and for Ontario taxpayers who’ve already been forced by their government to pay hundreds of thousands of dollars in legal costs to delay and deny the democratic rights of other Ontario workers.”
Typically the Supreme Court of Canada responds within a matter of months on whether it will hear an appeal or not.
UFCW Canada in association with the Agriculture Workers Alliance operates eight support centres across Canada for agriculture workers. UFCW Canada is also Canada's largest private-sector union with over 250,000 members across the country working in every sector of the food industry from field to table.
Globe and Mail