NUPGE Leadership School: This federal election, we can do better!

“Our message in this election is ‘we can do better.' Whether it's protecting health care or supporting veterans, we don’t have to accept the status quo.” — NUPGE National President James Clancy

Keene, ON (27 Aug. 2015) – The National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE) 17th annual Leadership Development School ended with participants ready to put their new skills to use as we go into the last seven weeks of the federal election campaign.

NUPGE National President James Clancy closed the final session by leading a discussion about the work NUPGE is doing for the 2015 election.

“Our message in this election is ‘we can do better,’” said Clancy. “Whether its protecting health care or supporting veterans, we don’t have to accept the status quo.”

“We will be encouraging people to vote based on their hopes not their fears. While the Harper Conservatives want people to believe there’s no alternative, we will be reminding people that many of the problems we’re facing are the result of deliberate policy choices by the federal government.”

 1st row: Diana Schultz (MGEU), Faika Satterthwaite (HSAA), James Clancy, Chrisy Tremblay (OPSEU), Mike Leaman (NBU), 2nd row: Derek Fudge (NUPGE), Salli Rye (BCGEU), Bonnie McRae (SGEU), Juanita Lowenberger (SGEU), 3rd row: Ed Arvelin (OPSEU), Pamela Pye (BCGEU), 4th row: Kathryn Kaminski (OPSEU), Jess D’Arienzo (Public Service Association of Australia), Sandra Mullen (NSGEU), 5th row: Emet Davis (BCGEU), Bonnie Bond (SGEU), Yvonne Whiting (HSAA), 6th row: Lucille Thirlby (UNISON), Jean-Guy Bourgeois (MGEU), Mike Parker (HSAA), 7th row: Patrick Moran (AFSCME Maryland), Doug Ferguson (PEIUPSE), Salim Barbar (Unions NSW, Australia), Scott De Long (BCGEU), 8th row: Doug Dykens (BCGEU), Drew Finucane (OPSEU), Chris MacLellan (NBU), Gareth Jones (OPSEU)

Polling data shows how we defeat Harper

Maureen Prebinski spoke to participants about how to use polls and how recent polls should guide election work. Polls can reveal opportunities for momentum and gains. Some opportunities for NUPGE are that women are most likely to vote against Harper and that our members are more likely to vote than the average voter. 

NUPGE leadership on labour rights pays off

Earlier in the week participants heard from prominent labour lawyer Paul Cavalluzzo on the impact of a recent trilogy of labour cases that were heard by the Supreme Court. Decisions from these cases dramatically expand the protection for unions under the Canadian Charter of Rights of Freedoms.

Cavalluzzo said that a key factor in labour’s success was the ability to coordinate the efforts. He paid tribute to NUPGE’s role, saying, “James Clancy was crucial in getting all the groups together.”

As NUPGE National Secretary-Treasurer Larry Brown pointed out, NUPGE’s efforts were the culmination of over 10 years of looking for ways to use the Charter, human rights legislation and the International Labour Convention to protect the rights of Canadian workers.

Repairing damage done by federal Conservative policies

Debi Daviau, President of the Professional Institute of the Public Service of Canada (PIPSC), talked to members about how to restore federal public services after nine years of destruction by federal Conservatives. In addition to mobilizing its own members, PIPSC has been building links with other unions to fight the Harper agenda.

“What we realized as workers is we’re all facing the same plight. It doesn’t matter if you’re a doctor, a lawyer or a service industry worker,” said Daviau.

Over 400 have graduated from NUPGE’s Leadership Development School

With the end of the 2015 year’s School, 401 people have graduated from NUPGE’s Leadership Development School. Like others before them, participants in the 17th annual school left ready to take on new challenges in their union and in their communities.

Other sessions presented at the Leadership Development School were

  • The threat posed by international trade deals to democracy and nation sovereignty (NUPGE Secretary-Treasurer Larry Brown)
  • Building a high participation union through organizing (Jane McAlevey an organizer, author and scholar and former campaign director for the AFL-CIO)
  • How precarious employment affects individuals, families and communities (Wayne Lewchuk, McMaster University)
  • Challenges and opportunities for unions in Britain, the U.S. and Australia (Lucille Thirlby from UNISON, Patrick Moran from the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME), Jessica D’Arienzo from the Public Service Association of New South Wales, and Salim Barbar from Union New South Wales)


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