As per tradition, the United Steelworkers (USW) Local 6166 hosted their annual Labour Day barbecue at the Thompson union hall Sept. 2.
Just like in previous years, union members celebrated this national holiday by handing out free food to the public and organizing activities for local youth like a potato sack race.
What made this year’s picnic different from recent iterations is that it took place a week before locals will head to the polls to decide who will represent them in the Manitoba Legislature.
As such, NDP candidate Danielle Adams and Progressive Conservative candidate Kelly Bindle made an appearance to try and sway public opinion.
In many ways, their short speeches served as a preview for Wednesday night’s debate at the Ma-Mow-We-Tak Friendship Centre, with Bindle repeating the PC talking point about how the current government inherited a “mess” from the NDP three years ago.
“Since then we have reduced taxes, cut ambulance fees and we are the only province in Canada that has lowered wait times over the last three years,” he said.
Despite receiving scaterred boos and jeers from the union crowd, Bindle implored onlookers to think carefully about who they want in office for the next four years.
“A vote for NDP will take us back to higher taxes and poorer services,” he said. “The NDP platform contains a carbon tax that could raise the price of gas to $1.74 a litre and that means $50 every time you fill up your tank.”
Meanwhile, Adams received a much warmer reception when she talked about why Labour Day is so important.
“We need to take the time to acknowledge the role organized labour has played in providing the lifestyles which we enjoy: a living wage, a reasonable work-life balance, a safe and healthy work environment, job security and the ability to plan for our future,” she said.
But Adams also said that their fight is not over, since she believes that right-wing governments, represented by politicians like Bindle and Manitoba PC party leader Brian Pallister, are attempting to undermine the modern labour movement.
“This is part of the reason why I decided to stand for office, because of Pallister’s attacks on nurses, on teachers, on front line workers and labour in general,” she said. “I watched as Kelly Bindle said absolutely nothing while 500 union jobs left our community, when he supported the government cronies that pitted union against union in an attempt to destabilize the solidarity of our brothers and sisters.”
Both Bindle and Adams will have the opportunity to discuss these issues in more detail during Wednesday night’s debate at the Ma-Mow-We-Tak Friendship Centre, which is set to run from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m.
Advance voting is still available in Thompson until Sept. 5. Locals can cast their ballot at either the City Centre Mall or the returning office on Selkirk Avenue located next to Moore Specs.