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Home » Officer Columns » New Hope for Labour and the Arts Under Canada’s Liberal Government

New Hope for Labour and the Arts Under Canada’s Liberal Government

  -  AFM Vice President from Canada

One of my duties as AFM Vice President from Canada is to sit as a Vice President of the Canadian Labour Congress (CLC). In that capacity, I attend the executive committee meetings. At the last gathering, those in attendance were treated to a question and answer period with Canada’s new Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau.

This marked the first time that a prime minister had visited with the CLC in at least 50 years. Trudeau was well received and spoke in a light-hearted manner, but with a positive message to the labour community. The new PM was astute enough to know that he was in a room filled with New Democratic Party (NDP) supporters, traditionally the party of choice for working class Canada. But in this instance, he was also aware that many attendees had voted, and advocated voting, strategically. In other words, votes were cast not necessarily for the party of preference, but for the candidate who had the best chance of defeating the Conservatives. As we now know, what was originally a very tight three-way race ended up in a stunning majority government for the previously all but dead Liberal Party of Canada.

Trudeau showed his charm early in his address. Playing to his audience, he quickly affirmed his pre-election statement that the new government would repeal Bills C-377 and C-525. The announcement was met with a standing ovation and loud applause. Grinning from ear to ear, the PM then asked innocently, “Why are you applauding? Don’t all politicians keep their promises?”

The ease in which he moved through the meeting and the eloquence exhibited in an obvious outreach to organized labour speaks well of a promising future between government and Canada’s unions for the next four years. Clearly, there has been a concerted effort by the Liberals to move farther left. There were additional assurances that all stakeholders would be consulted before Canada decides whether to sign on the just-revealed TPP agreement.

In terms of value for musicians, the Liberal Party put forward the strongest platform on Arts and Culture. That platform is detailed in the chart on page 7.

Also of note, of course, is the Liberal promise to restore $150 million of funding to the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation’s (CBC) operating budget. While the CBC has used the Harper administration cuts as an excuse for a vastly-reduced use of musicians, we now ostensibly have leverage at the table during the next round of negotiations to insist on restoration of the music budget to pre-Tory levels in order to fulfill the CBC mandate as a public broadcaster.

The negotiations with the National Film Board have concluded, and the ratification notice will be in the mail shortly. We now begin bargaining with the Institute of Communication Agencies and the Association of Canadian Advertisers (ICA/ACA) for a successor General Production Agreement for Commercial Announcements. We expect, once again, for new media to be the most contentious issue.

I would like to take this opportunity to wish all CFM/AFM members and their families peace and love during the upcoming holidays, and throughout the year, as well as health and prosperity in the New Year.