President of Toronto & York Region Labour Council, representing 200k union members. Advocate for sustainable green jobs and living wages.
John Cartwright is the President of the Toronto & York Region Labour Council, representing 200,000 union members in Canada’s largest urban centre. A carpenter by trade, he was formerly the Business Manager of the Building Trades Council and co-chair of the Metro Jobstart Coalition. John has served on the Boards of the Waterfront Regeneration Trust, United Way Toronto. and the Labour Education Centre.
Over the years, John has helped develop the Campaign for Public Education, Public Transit for the Public Good, and the Toronto Waterwatch campaign to defend vital public services in Toronto. John has been deeply involved apprenticeship and training issues, as well as crafting the “Green Jobs Strategy” for the Canadian Labour Congress. In 2007, he led the successful fight for a $10 Minimum Wage, and has recently focused on challenging the growth of poverty wages in our economy.
Racism has been used for centuries to divide and conquer working people. Today, "systemic racism" is an institutionalized feature of society, throwing up barriers to racialized workers and families in every community. All of our institutions and cultural norms are touched by its impact.
In the year 2017, all of us need to reach out to our families and neighbours who feel uneasy about the changing world, and patiently challenge prejudice or intolerance whenever it appears. If the worst happens south of the border and the drums of war and belligerence beat more loudly, the future of the world will be at risk.
On December 7th, Premier Wynne was joined by four of her cabinet colleagues for an announcement about a unique agreement for "Community Benefits" for the Eglinton Crosstown transit project. The room was crowded with representatives from Metrolinx, the builder, community groups and unions.
This Labour Day over twenty-five thousand union members will march on the streets of Toronto with the Labour Council to celebrate the achievements of the labour movement. It is the largest parade on Labour Day in North America -- a testament to the determination of workers to mark our place in Canada's largest urban centre.
As corporate globalization undermines the standard of living of working families, workers will re-discover the value of grassroots organizing and collective representation. In the process, a whole new generation of diverse, talented leaders will come to the fore.
There needs to be a concerted effort to confront the rise of prejudice that was encouraged by the Conservatives in their bid for re-election. Although Steven Harper has been defeated, the lingering "permission" given to bigotry needs to be challenged in every workplace and community across Canada. Canadians have never been immune to the corrosive influences of racism and anti-Semitism. At this point in history we are called upon to specifically challenge Islamophobia. The fact is that our Muslim brothers and sisters have been made to feel defensive about their faith and unsure of how their neighbours accept them.
This will be the first generation of Canadians in our history to be worse off than their parents. That blunt fact is the new reality of our country, where seven per cent of workers are officially jobless (and much more if hidden unemployment is included) and youth unemployment stands at over 13 per cent. And that reality is a direct result of the policies and actions of this Conservative government and the Mulroney government that came before it. Friday's headlines point to the 26,000 auto parts jobs at risk as Harper drives ahead to sign the Trans-Pacific Partnership deal.
Extreme weather conditions, storms, flooding, droughts and ice melting are the new reality in too many parts of the world. People are losing their livelihood, their homes, their jobs -- and even their lives. While scientists and faith leaders call for urgent action, our political leaders have failed to take necessary actions.
Do we wonder why income inequality is spreading? An examination of what young people face today in the job market reads like a third world narrative -- two tiered wages; outsourcing sections of work to low-wage contractors; temp agencies replacing entry-level positions; and more work divided into part-time positions with few benefits. The idea of having to cobble together two or three jobs to make a living, all while paying off student debt, is the reality for hundreds of thousands of young graduates.
It's like watching a train wreck in slow motion. The Prime Minister of Canada is deliberately stirring up prejudice against one group of Canadians for one reason only -- political advantage. The sad reality is that many Canadians and Quebecois seem to be vulnerable to embracing an anti-Muslim sentiment. We are all appalled by the brutality of ISIS, with their voyeuristic killing of innocent victims. The tragic murder of two soldiers in Canada has added a sense of vulnerability inside our own country. Stephen Harper's response is to declare that Canada is under attack by "global Jihadists" and introduce sweeping legislation giving new powers to CSIS.