Ontario Federation of Labour

Ontario Federation of Labour

January 29, 2011 10:29 ET

OFL: Thousands Gather in Hamilton for Largest Anti-Harper Protest Ever

"The People vs. U.S. Steel" Rally at 1 p.m. today at Hamilton City Hall

TORONTO, ONTARIO--(Marketwire - Jan. 29, 2011) - On the eve of a federal election, more than 10,000 angry Canadians will gather today in Hamilton, Ontario for the largest anti-Harper demonstration to take place. The protest will send a message to Harper as he shops for votes in Canada's manufacturing heartland.

"Canadians are furious at Harper's disregard for our income security and will make this a major election issue," said OFL President Sid Ryan. "Harper's vision for Canada's future is a low-wage economy where retirees are forced to gamble with their income security on the stock market."

In late 2010, the Conservatives broke a promise to Canadians when they cancelled enhancements to the Canada Pension Plan that would benefit all Canadians and announced plans to hand pension money over to a financial sector that brought us an economic meltdown. This move compounded public anger already boiling over at aggressive corporate tax cuts, underfunding of public services and secret deals with foreign corporations that grant seemingly unconditional access to Canada's natural resources while providing no net benefit to the people of Canada.

"Ontarians recognize that U.S. Steel's attack on pensions is straight out of Harper's play book," said Ryan. "Canada's doors have been opened to U.S. Steel, Vale Inco and a host of other foreign-owned mega-corporations while offering no protection for Canadian jobs, quality of life and retirement security. Working people are demanding that a 'net benefit' for Canada be redefined to protect their interests rather than lining the pockets of CEOs."

At issue in Hamilton is U.S. Steel's aggressive attack on 900 employees and 9000 retirees and its failure to follow through on legal obligations. Since U.S. Steel took over Stelco, 2200 employees are gone and the remaining 900 have been locked out since Nov. 7. Now, U.S. Steel is trying to beat its remaining workers into submission with demands that they agree to de-index retiree pensions and block new employees from any income security.

"The battle being waged on workers in Hamilton is being played out in communities across the country. Canadians are frightened about their future and see Hamilton as their chance to fight back against corporations that are strip-mining Canada's human resources," said Ryan. "Hamilton is every city and every town in Canada and it will not be business as usual for the Conservative government. Our message to Harper is simple: put Canadian jobs and retirement first – or you are gone."

Contact Information

  • OFL
    Sid Ryan
    416.209.0066 (mobile)
    Joel Duff
    Communications Director
    416.443.7665 or 416.707.0349 (mobile)
    Lynn Simmons
    416.668.7480 (mobile)