Ontario Federation of Labour

Ontario Federation of Labour

January 26, 2011 09:14 ET

Thousands of Protesters to Warn Canadian Prime Minister and Foreign-Owned Companies: Put Interests of Canadians First

TORONTO, CANADA--(Marketwire - Jan. 26, 2011) - U.S. Steel and Canada's federal Conservative government will be the targets of the largest demonstration since the election of Prime Minister Stephen Harper's minority government in 2006. As the country prepares for a federal election, Saturday's protest will send a message to Harper as he shops for votes in Canada's most populated province and manufacturing heartland.

The mass demonstration of over 10,000 is set for 1 p.m., Jan. 29, City Hall in Hamilton, Ontario. The city is known as Canada's "Steel Town," the equivalent of Pittsburgh.

The Canadian public is enraged by U.S. Steel's abysmal failure to live up to its employment obligations and steel production targets, part of the original deal it cut with the Canadian government to secure the purchase of the company. After cutting the workforce by 2200 employees, U.S. Steel locked out its workers on Nov. 7, the first-ever lock out in the union's 65- year history. Now, the company is demanding that the pensions of retirees be de-indexed and that new employees be blocked from any pension security.

"Canada's doors have been kicked wide open to U.S. Steel, Vale Inco and a host of other foreign-owned mega-corporations that are plundering Canada's rich natural resources, while offering no protection for Canadian jobs, quality of life or retirement security," said Sid Ryan, President of the Ontario Federation of Labour, Canada's largest labor federation representing one million Ontario workers. "Prime Minister 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."

With foreign investment at the highest level since World War II, Harper continues to undermine the Investment Canada Act, which contains a clause requiring foreign ownership to deliver a "net benefit" for Canada. In 12 months prior to Oct. 2010, the federal government reviewed only 5% of more than 400 takeovers, leaving Canadian interests at the mercy of foreign investors. Lack of transparency and public input in the review process are also the source of frustration.

"The battle being waged on workers in Hamilton is being played out in communities across the country. Hamilton is every city and every town in Canada and it will not be business as usual for the Conservative government. Our message to Prime Minister Harper is simple: put Canadian jobs and retirement first – or the Canadian electorate will show you the door."

Contact Information

  • Ontario Federation of Labour
    Sid Ryan
    416.209.0066 (mobile)
    Ontario Federation of Labour
    Joel Duff
    Communications Director
    416.443.7665 or 416.707.0349 (mobile)
    Ontario Federation of Labour
    Lynn Simmons
    416.668.7480 (mobile)