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UFCW Canada Saskatchewan local union activists, staff and officers joined in with 300 other delegates at the Saskatchewan NDP 75th Annual Convention, June 22-24, for a three-day review of the challenges facing the party and working people in Saskatchewan, and the next step in a renewal campaign that includes the selection of a new leader at the party's next convention in March 2013.
NDP federal leader Thomas Mulcair was the keynote speaker at the opening of the convention in Saskatoon, where he outlined a path to forming the next federal government. “The first task is to reach out beyond our traditional base and unite progressives of all stripes under the NDP banner,” Brother Mulcair told delegates, while pointing to the Saskatchewan NDP's historical success for doing just that.
"With the NDP now biting at the heels of the Harper government, it shows people are pushing back against a right-wing agenda," said Norm Neault, the President of UFCW Canada Local 1400. "We have to build on those concerns to replace the Brad Wall government and its corporate, anti-worker agenda here Saskatchewan."
The fight can't wait until the next election. Recently Brad Wall's Saskatchewan Party government announced it is considering - without public consultation - to make major changes to provincial labour laws that could strip basic workplace rights and protections, and weaken the trade union movement across the province. The government handpicked 666 groups to make submissions on the changes; almost all from the business and corporate sector.
"The so-called 'consultation' period has been limited to 90 days, which is nowhere near enough time to study and comment on a proposal that would rewrite 15 separate pieces of legislation," says UFCW Canada Local 248P President Maurice Werezak. "The Saskatchewan Party government simply wants to shut out working people from the process who will be hurt by these changes."
But thanks to an online letter campaign that was introduced at the UFCW Canada Local 1400 display area, the concerns of everyday Saskatchewan citizens will now be heard. Throughout the weekend, convention delegates used a touch screen display to send a message to Saskatchewan MLA's, to respect labour rights and provide time for real consultation. Anyone with a computer can access the campaign at www.ufcw1400.ca .
"Democracy includes equal access to the political process," says Brother Neault. "The Saskatchewan NDP believes in that. Brad Wall does not."
The campaign period for the new NDP Saskatchewan leader begins this September 4, with a new leader to be elected March 9, 2013 at the NDP Saskatchewan 76th Annual Convention.