O'Toole calls for better conditions for workers, slams outsourcing to China in speech
Conservative leader Erin O’Toole says Canadian workers have been betrayed by political and financial elites, and bemoans the falling rates of private sector unionization as industrial jobs have migrated to China.
His remarks, given in a virtual speech to the Canadian Club Toronto on Friday, are another example of how O’Toole is changing the party’s message since being elected leader in August.
O’Toole’s speech noted that private sector unionization has “collapsed,” observing that one in three private sector workers were union members in the 1950s but today it’s “closer to one in 25.”
“It may surprise you to hear a Conservative bemoan the decline of private sector union membership,” said O’Toole’s prepared remarks. “But this was an essential part of the balance between what was good for business and what was good for employees. Today, that balance is dangerously disappearing. Too much power is in the hands of corporate and financial elites who are happy to outsource jobs abroad. It’s now expected of a shareholder to ask a CEO: ‘Why are we paying a worker in Oshawa 30 dollars an hour when we could be paying one in China 50 cents an hour?'”
O’Toole, whose riding is in the Oshawa area where General Motors factories have steadily scaled back and threatened to close entirely, has made championing workers a key part of his rhetoric. He said he’s seen his hometown of Bowmanville “hollowed out” over the last few decades, a situation made worse now by the economic chaos of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“I want to tell you that everything is not okay,” O’Toole’s speech said, echoing a line that was in a recent Conservative advertisement.
He said Canadian workers used to be able to expect full-time employment, a steady salary and a pension, but that now feels like a “bygone era.”
“Do we really want a nation of Uber drivers?” he asks in the speech. “Do we really want to abandon a generation of Canadians to a Darwinian struggle? A future without the possibility of homeownership? A sense of inevitability? While some benefit, millions are losing hope. And resentment is growing.”
O’Toole also said the Conservatives recognize that during the pandemic, unusual measures are needed to protect vulnerable Canadians.
“We understand the need for deficit spending at a time of national emergency,” he said, and pointed to the precedents set by spending during the World Wars and, more recently, the 2008 financial crisis.
“This is not something I would support in normal times,” he said. “But we are facing more than a health crisis. We are facing the greatest economic crisis of our lifetime.”
But he warned the Liberals are attempting to use this crisis to “launch a risky experiment with our economy,” moving Canada sharply to the left and funding “vast green energy experiments.”
O’Toole’s concluding section of the speech argued that political, financial and business elites have been insulated from economic turmoil as they steadily let China take over more manufacturing jobs.
“We made a mistake in allowing ourselves to de-industrialize,” O’Toole said. “Thirty years ago, the Western world’s political, financial, and business elite made a bet: we would allow China to have unfair access to our market while they protected their own…Once it became rich and prosperous, we hoped it would turn into a good actor, democratize, liberalize, and play by the rules. You all know this hasn’t happened.”
He said it is not in Canada’s national interest to let China manufacture supplies like drugs, masks and ventilators.
“So, I will say this: when the most efficient outcome does not align with our national interest, a Conservative government will ensure that the national interest comes first,” he said. “Free markets alone won’t solve our problems.”
O’Toole concluded by saying that GDP growth is not the “be-all and end-all of politics.”
“We need policies to shore up the core units of society — family, neighbourhood, faith, nation,” he said. “We need policies that build solidarity, not just wealth.”
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Besides voting for the president and vice-president, the U.S. election is also a chance for myriad other issues to be put before the electorate — and not just in terms of Republican and Democratic policy proposals.
In 32 states, there are roughly 120 issues on the ballot. So, at the same time someone votes for president, they may also have a chance to vote on abortion, the legalization of drugs, new flags, electoral reform and other ballot measures, usually called propositions.
Here are a few of the “other” election issues U.S. voters will consider when they go to the polls on Tuesday.
Colorado and Louisiana both have abortion measures on the ballot.
In Colorado, Proposition 115 would outlaw abortion after 22 weeks, with no exceptions for rape or incest. There is, however, an exception to save the mother’s life. (Most states have limitations on when a person can get abortion; if Colorado passes Prop 115, it would join these ranks.)
In Louisiana, voters will consider a constitutional amendment “to protect human life, a right to abortion and the funding of abortion shall not be found in the Louisiana Constitution.” This would have no immediate effect, but, should federal courts decide there’s no right to abortion, it would prevent state courts in Louisiana finding there’s a right to abortion.
Several states have ballot questions pertaining to cannabis.
Arizona, Montana and New Jersey will consider whether or not to legalize recreational marijuana.
South Dakota is considering whether or not to legalize both recreational and medicinal marijuana.
Mississippi is considering two ballot measures that basically ask a similar question: should there be medical marijuana for certain patients.
It’s not just pot that’s on the ballot. Washington, D.C. and Oregon states are contemplating the legalization of psilocybin, or magic mushrooms.
In District of Columbia, the ballot measure calls for the decriminalization of entheogenic plants and fungi, which would include magic mushrooms.
Oregon goes further, calling for the legalization of psilocybin. If that passes, it would be the first state to take this step.
In California, voters will be asked to consider a proposition that would say Lyft and Uber drivers are independent contractors, not employees. It’s a gig-economy proposition — the first of its sort in the state. It has pitted the companies against organized labour.
In Colorado, Proposition 114 would ask the Colorado Parks and Wildlife Commission to reintroduce grey wolves to certain parts of the state by the end of 2023. The wolves were basically wiped out in the United States by the mid-20th century. Colorado has had successful reintroductions before. Local media reports indicate the state has reintroduced lynx, elk and bison over the decades.
*Names ‘n’ Flags*
The full name of Rhode Island, believe it or not, is the State of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations. A ballot initiative asks voters to consider removing “and Providence Plantations” from the state name. This was rejected in 2010.
In Mississippi, voters will consider a new flag design. They may vote in favour of the new flag or reject the new flag. If the latter happens, a commission will redesign the flag for vote in November 2021. The state’s flag was retired in June 2020, because it paid homage to the slave-owning Confederacy.
These are just some of the more interesting propositions. Scads of other measures are up for decisions, from taxes to election laws.
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My kids have been after me for years to bring an interior designer into the fold for our job sites. And up until recently, I resisted it. Why? Well, for me, it didn’t seem necessary. I felt that our team was up to the task of making the decisions that would usually fall under the responsibility of an interior designer.
But as I let my kids take on more responsibility on the job site, they persisted, and Dad relented. And I have to say, they make an incredible addition to the team. Their knowledge and expertise makes our job as contractors easier — and at the end of the day, that makes for happy homeowners.
So why do you want the services of a contractor AND an interior designer? Here’s why.
*What does an interior designer do?*
When you think interior design, your mind might immediately wander to things like paint colours and furniture choices. Now, sometimes, this is part of it (and for homeowners who are renovating — a key factor), but interior design is more about how you’re going to fundamentally make use of your space.
Do you want an open concept home? They can design the floor plan. Do you want to add a skylight or some new windows? They can help find the perfect spot.
Interior designers are trained in code, and can help make recommendations on those major structural changes in your home. However, at the end of the day you’ll still need an architect to sign off on the plans.
*Your renovation team*
Your contractor and your interior designer will be working closely together, so it’s a good idea to look for a team that can work well together. Often, a contractor will have a designer or two they like working with and vice versa, and they can provide some references for you to check out.
This isn’t an excuse not to do your due diligence and thoroughly vet your team. Renovations are expensive, and you want to ensure it’s done right. Make sure you’re asking for several references from each, and calling their previous clients. Online reviews are a good start, but they shouldn’t be your only source when it comes to hiring the people who will be working on your home.
*Integrating you team*
The most important thing to remember when working with your contractor and your interior designer is that you’re a team. What you shouldn’t do, is hire a designer to come up with a plan — and then once you’ve got the sign off, hire a contractor to do the work.
You want them to each be part of the conversation from the very beginning. A contractor can provide a fresh set of eyes to the designer’s plans and let them know if they’re not feasible for the space. Identifying these problems early is key, because it means less time wasted on the job site, and less materials wasted, which will save you money.
Having the team involved from start to finish is a good way to keep communication open throughout the project. Your team can discuss who’s responsible for ordering which products, and securing permits, and set up a work schedule to ensure things go smoothly.
*Why include a designer?*
You might think that a contractor is sufficient, so what other benefits can adding an interior designer to the equation bring?
I’ve often found that as a contractor, getting homeowners to discuss realistic budgets with me can be like pulling teeth. But if they’ve already spoken to a designer about their vision — the designer can give them a realistic idea of what kind of budget they’d need to be working with.
Not only is this great for the homeowner, as it will allow them to view their renovation realistically — it makes things easier for me as well. This lets me put my focus on the construction of the project itself.
A designer can also get the homeowner to define the specifics of the project. This helps us create a plan of attack for the project, and helps ensure that it’s a success.
I’ve seen the light. From now on, my renovations will include an interior designer as a key part of your team — and if you’re serious about your project, you’ll consider it too.
To find out more about Mike Holmes, visit makeitright.ca