04/03/2017 04:27 EDT | Updated 04/03/2017 04:27 EDT

Fairness For Canadian Workers Means Clawing Back CEO Perks

So Bombardier executives have been shamed into giving back the massive perks they gave themselves after receiving a bailout from Canadians. The idea that executives tried to pocket $32 million in bonuses after begging for over $370 million in federal government aid is appalling. And it shouldn't require public shaming to get public accountability of public money given to large corporations.

But unlike Prime Minister Justin Trudeau who gave them the thumbs up, I would insist that federal commitments for money be tied to conditions. One of those conditions would be clawing back every dime that is spent on corporate bonuses and perks.

And this is why I have been pushing for a jobs pledge strategy for all federal investments. It's a simple idea -- if you want money from the federal government you make a commitment to invest in jobs in Canada. If Bombardier wants government help then they must be willing to put the jobs into Canada rather than shipping the jobs to Mexico or overseas. The same goes for GM, Irving or any other company that comes looking for handouts.


My plan for public accountability of public money puts me at odds with Justin Trudeau. CEO compensation is already outrageously out of sync with the wages being paid to ordinary workers. Meanwhile the Liberals were more than willing to defend the profiteering by Bombardier executives. "We respect the free market," Trudeau told media nonchalantly.

Well, here's the thing, there's nothing "free" about the issue. This is about the obligation of the federal government to protect the interests of taxpayers and Canadian workers. In 2015, Bombardier lost $981 million. They turned to the government of Quebec and the federal government for help to the tune of $1.37 billion. And so their profit margin was, in reality, a handout from taxpayers. The decision to pocket $32 million as CEO bonuses rightfully drew the ire of people across the political spectrum.

And Bombardier's dependence on the public purse goes deeper. They rely on Canadian municipal and provincial contracts for Canadian light rail, streetcars and subways. Don't get me wrong; I support the awarding of contracts for urban transit to Bombardier because they are a Canadian company. But I don't support their decision to lay off workers and ship these jobs to Mexico and other jurisdictions.

Recently I visited the Thunder Bay plant to watch what I was told would be the last fully built subway car. Bombardier executives had decided to ship the bulk of this municipal contract to lower-paid workers in Mexico. And Bombardier knows that this continual outsourcing of Canadian jobs won't be a political problem because they have friends at the top.

In an age when other national governments are beginning to wrestle with the growing inequities in our global economies, Justin Trudeau has emerged as the ultimate trickle-down cheerleader. He believes that if you look after those at the top of the economic food chain everyone will somehow make do.


But Canadian workers and regional economies are not doing well. These predatory policies have stripped Canada's middle class and left us with increasingly precarious regional economies. Whether it's the shutting down of saw mills on Vancouver Island so that logs can be exported raw to China for processing or GM's decision to ship 600 jobs from the CAMI plant to Mexico, we have a government that shows no interest in standing up for Canadian workers.

Talk to the employees at CIBC who helped earn their bosses $1.4 billion in profits in a single quarter are now losing jobs to India. They will tell you that it doesn't matter how hard Canadians work, how many concessions they give up or how efficient their operation, the new economic order is driven by the need for ever-increasing compensation for those at the top, while driving down wages for everybody else.

This is why we need a federal government that is willing to stand up for Canadian workers. Let's face it, when it comes to jobs, Justin Trudeau just doesn't have your back. As national leader of the New Democratic Party I would be more than willing to utilize the levers of the federal government to boost the economy and make life fairer for Canadian workers. The days when CEOs look to the taxpayer's pocket, as a place to pick up some extra perks and cash will be over.

To the workers in sawmills, manufacturing plants and banks -- we have your back.

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