North Okanagan Labour Council President David Doran spoke to Save Our Services rallies in Vernon and Kelowna on Feb. 23, 2002. Here's the text of his speech:
Hello out there.
What a great bunch of people we have here today.
I bring fraternal greetings from the Canadian Labour Congress and the BC Federation of Labour and its 460,000 members.
On May 17 of last year, our former president of the NOLC had these words to say:
Clearly I'm disappointed! It's very dangerous to elect such a majority government without an official opposition, without anyone to challenge their actions and hold them accountable, the Liberals could pass legislation that is not supported by the majority of British Columbians.
More importantly, I'm worried! I'm worried about all those people that rely on our Public Services to make ends meet.
I'm worried about those workers that will be legislated back to work and lose their democratic right to remove their labour when their employer refuses to participate in the free collective bargaining process.
I'm worried about people, mainly senior citizens in need of health care and can't afford to pay their way into hospitals.
I'm worried about what public services will be lost as a result of tax breaks for Gordon Campbell's corporate friends.
In general, Labour does not support the Liberal platform, however some of Campbell's comments may appear moderate. What we fear is what he has not said!
Profound words the day after the election.
We have let our disappointment in the last government elect a 77-seat majority.
Indeed we've had a sharp reminder over the past few months that we should not take things for granted.
The headlines read:
LARGEST TAX CUTS IN HISTORY
Followed a short time later by
THE LARGEST DEFICIT IN HISTORY
Anyone with the basic mathematical skills should be able to equate the two.
Our finance minister wants to blame the past government for the tax cuts that are responsible in the large part for the deficit.
Many things we fought hard for and negotiated in our collective agreements have been wiped out by the stroke of a pen.
Over the next few years, there is a real danger of our health care our education and our social services being gutted to within a shadow of what they once were.
Seniors fall prey to the increase in prescription fees; Students suffer the indignity of the reduction of the minimum wage and the removal of tuition freeze and thereby denying many of them the opportunity for further education.
We also realize that the doctors are far from being immune to the antics of slash Gordon and his ideology.
The tax cuts given in July have been clawed back with the same disparity as they were given.
Not to mention we will be paying more for less services.
If you make 60,000 dollars a year, you lose about one third of your tax cut; if you make $30,000 a year, you lose half of your tax cut.
Fifty-two per cent of the tax cuts were given to the top 20% of the people in the province who make in excess of $80,000 per year.
It is difficult to see any hope of economic recovery when this government increases the number of people unemployed, threatens more with layoff and then increases the tax burden to the largest portion of people in the province.
Obviously this government and the business sector are unable to link the fact that less disposable income for people means less spending by the consumer. Unions were formed by working people to protect working people, and some Unions have been around for a hundred years.
We have a government that appears to hate people who are organized.
They challenge our solidarity.
There is a world struggle between those who have and have not.
We oppose a system that allows the rich to butt in front and the poor to go to the back of the line.
We will fight for British Columbia and every community in the province until this government recognizes how important each and everyone is.
Mr. Campbell you ask the people of this province to make you and your MLAs accountable. That's why we are here today. To make our voices heard. We want our MLAs to take this message with our concerns to Victoria as our representatives and refrain from acting like lap dogs to you and your inner circle.