Saturday, April 13, 2019

ONDP MPP crosses protest picket line to attend Fedeli Chamber of Commerce event

Fresh off of tabling a vicious austerity budget that cut funding to Indigenous Affairs, Legal Aid, healthcare, education and many other programs and portfolios on Thursday, Doug Ford's chief thug Minister of Finance Vic Fedeli must have been thrilled knowing he had a receptive audience at lunch on Friday.  No less than a gathering of capitalists and business "leaders" at the Annual General Meeting of the Greater Oshawa Chamber of Commerce. Fedeli was to be the keynote speaker. 

Of course, not everyone was happy that Fedeli was coming to town. In fact the Durham Region Labour Council showed up to picket and protest the love fest. According to Tiffany Balducci, the council's President:
Protest photo via twitter
We quickly organized a picket through word-of-mouth, WhatsApp, email, and phone chats – keeping our organizing private as to keep our plans under wraps for the element of surprise. The protest was in response to a budget that is clearly for the corporate elite and not for the people.
The AGM was slated to begin at 11am on April 12. By 10:30 AM we had all four entrances completely blocked with around 80 protesters from all walks of life: local autism coalition, several local unions including Unifor, OPSEU, CUPE, ETFO, IBEW; $15 and Fairness/We Are Oshawa, Health Care coalition and more.
By 10:45 AM the Mercedes and BMWs began to roll in – or attempted to, but were met with a completely blockaded Convention Centre and peaceful protesters with literature on the various cuts to public services and the impact they will have. The Chamber of Commerce attendees either parked in the road and walked up or just drove away, deciding not to attend after we chatted with them.
Fedeli addresses a friendly crowd
Conservative Durham MPP Lindsey Park showed her party's usual contempt for working people and democracy when she decided to drive her car right into the protesters. Happily no one was hurt. She eventually made her way in to hear Fedeli address what amounts to a fan club for Ford and company.

Also there was Jennifer French, the NDP MPP for Oshawa. Given the nature of the budget, the action by the local Labour Council and the fact that it was a Fedeli propaganda session, you would assume she was there to protest. But you would be wrong.

She was there to attend the event despite Fedeli, despite the fact that the Chamber of Commerce is what it is and despite the pickets.

And attend she did.

Here she is in photos with the Mayor of Oshawa as well as with Nancy Shaw, the CEO & General Manager of the Greater Oshawa Chamber of Commerce.

French at right

French second from right

(Photos via Facebook & Instagram)

Now this strikingly counter-intuitive and counter-productive decision is nothing new for a party that seems forever desperate to gain a capitalist cloak of respectability no matter how unfortunate the context.

Just days after it successfully lobbied the Ford government to rip up Bill 148 that granted new rights and protections to workers in Ontario and that was to raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour the ONDP leader herself Andrea Horwath appeared at an Ontario Chamber of Commerce event. 

Then in November Horwath and fellow ONDP caucus "resistance" fighters attended an event by a real estate lobby group that had celebrated the end of rent control.

It is all part of a very longstanding and very predictable pattern of pandering to the enemy by Canada's alleged social democratic and labour party. It is one that should be very troubling to those seeking to build a mass resistance to the Ford government and the years of attacks that lie ahead.

You don't do that by crossing protest and picket lines to take a seat at a Chamber of Commerce table to hear a speech by a Ford cabinet minister.

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