Activists gather for NUPGE’s 17th Leadership Development School

NUPGE members from across the country meet to develop and enhance strategic thinking and planning skills and to learn more about handling organizational change effectively.

Keene, ON (24 Aug. 2015) —  Component activists from the National Union of Public and General Employees' (NUPGE), along with NUPGE's sister unions in the U.S., Australia and Britain, have gathered for NUPGE’s Leadership Development School. The school, that has taken place for the last 17 years, is designed to develop dynamic leadership within the Components of the National Union.

Opening the school, NUPGE Secretary-Treasurer Larry Brown emphasized how the participation of every member was key to the success of the school. “People will go away from here poorer if they don’t hear from you.”

School prepares future leaders for challenges they will face

Dr. Elaine Bernard, executive director of the Harvard University Trade Union Program, who has taught at every School, is leading a series of sessions on leadership strategic planning and organizational change. These sessions focus on the importance of developing a broader layer of leadership throughout the labour movement and in the community.

Larry Brown, NUPGE Secretary-Treasurer           Elaine Bernard, Harvard University Trade Union Program

What’s at stake in the upcoming federal election

As part of the Leadership School, NUPGE invites guest speakers to address the members on a wide variety of important subjects. 

This year, investigative journalist and author of the recent best seller Party of One, Michael Harris spoke about what was at stake in the coming federal election. He outlined how time after time those who have raised concerns about the actions of the Harper government have been attacked, fired or marginalized.

Harris mentioned a number of examples:

  • Kevin Page was fired as Parliamentary Budget Officer after his report revealed the government had misled the public about the cost of the F-35 jets.
  • Linda Keen was fired as president of the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission after she refused to overlook safety issues at the Chalk River nuclear reactor.
  • Services for veterans were cut to save $3.5 million at the same time that the Harper government was spending $4.5 million on ads boasting about the government’s support for veterans.

Harris also pointed out just how flawed are the anti-union Bill C-377 and the methods used to get it passed. He noted that, “If it (Bill C-377) does stand, a perfectly legal group in the country will be presented as outlaws.”

Harris had a clear message for anyone feeling repulsed by politics after seeing what Harper has been doing. “If you don’t take an interest in politics, politics will take an interest in you.”

Michael Harris, author and journalist Alex Neve, Amnesty International

Participants hear how Canada’s reputation has suffered

Joing the School this year was Amnesty International Secretary-General Alex Neve who spoke about how Canada is no longer internationally seen as a champion of human rights. In July, the United Nations Human Rights Committee issued a report criticizing Canada for ignoring problems faced by Aboriginal Peoples, such as the number of missing and murdered Aboriginal girls and women, for the selective auditing of charities, for definitions of terrorism that cover legitimate dissent, and for deporting people to countries where they face torture.

Ready for a week of hard work

Members participating in the School know they are coming to work and it showed in the level of participation and thoughtful questions posed to speakers. The School runs for four more days, and concludes with a presentation from National President James Clancy.


The National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE) is one of Canada's largest labour organizations with over 360,000 members. Our mission is to improve the lives of working families and to build a stronger Canada by ensuring our common wealth is used for the common good. NUPGE