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UPDATE: ‘We are the three-quarters majority’, says Barlow

Barlow at the CUPE convention

Barlow at the CUPE convention

This week at the CUPE convention in Vancouver, Council of Canadians chairperson Maude Barlow stated, “(The Harper agenda) calls for resistance and action from the ‘Three‐Quarters Majority’ who did not vote for the Conservatives! …While much of the world has turned its back on this agenda (of more stuff, unlimited growth, corporate power, privatization and deregulation), our leaders here in North America and Europe continue to defend it. But we, the Three‐Quarters Majority, can defeat it if we band together in an unstoppable force for good.”

How are we the Three-Quarters Majority?
Barlow says, “And now Stephen Harper and his Conservatives – the most right wing government we have ever had in this country have a so-called majority. I say so-called because if we add the number of people who did not vote for him and combine it with the number who did not vote at all, he has the support of less that one quarter of Canadians.”

In the May 2011 federal election, the Conservatives received 39.62 percent of the popular vote. But with voter turnout at 61.4 percent, that means that just under 25 percent of eligible voters actually voted for the Harper Conservatives in the last election. Despite receiving just 39.62 percent of vote, our skewed electoral system gave the Harper Conservatives a majority with 54.22 percent of the seats in the House of Commons. But if the seats were won in proportion to the votes cast, they would have 122 seats, that’s 45 fewer seats and not a parliamentary majority.

On issue-specific polling, it is also clear that the Harper government does not reflect the wishes of the Canadian public. Notably, an Environics Research poll commissioned by the Council of Canadians in March 2011 indicated that 73 percent (three-quarters) of Canadians want the Harper government to recognize the human right to clean and safe water and sanitation. More polling can be found at http://canadians.org/blog/?p=9291.

What is Harper doing with his so-called majority?
Barlow says in her speech that, “Harper has removed funding from all groups who are in any way critical of his policies. His Conservatives now hold Parliamentary committee meetings in-camera so that we won’t know who opposes him. …He has declared war on unions and collective bargaining in an attempt to roll back worker rights to 1930s standards. He has even promised big bonuses to senior government officials based on how many jobs they cut in their department. …He has decided to unilaterally kill the Canadian Wheat Board, a 75‐year old farmer run marketing board that brings a fair return to the farm gate and economic benefits to the community. …He has turned his back on Canada’s commitment to fight climate change. He is savagely cutting scientists from Environment Canada so they won’t be able to blow the whistle on the damage he and his corporate buddies are inflicting on Canada. …He wants to privatize health care in Canada… (And he wants) CETA – a dangerous agreement that would permit big European water companies to run our water services for profit…”

How will we stop Harper?
Barlow says, “Every now and then in history, people rise up against entrenched power and refuse to comply with false authority. I deeply believe we are going to see an increase in civil disobedience in our country in the coming months and years. …For all his claim of power, even Stephen Harper cannot enforce an agenda the people don’t want. But it will take solidarity and cooperation between civil society and working people to build the resistance we need to succeed. And that is where the partnership between CUPE, the Council of Canadians and other labour and civil society groups comes in.”

In early-September, Postmedia News reported, “Maude Barlow, national chairperson of the Council of Canadians, said she found it ‘appalling’ that Prime Minister Stephen Harper was able to form a majority government with the support of a small percentage of Canadians who actually voted for the Conservative party. ‘We have to find a way, either through proportional representation or alliance of progressive forces, to form a government that truly represents the views of the majority of Canadians,’ Barlow said.”

To read Maude Barlow’s speech to the CUPE convention, please go to http://canadians.org/blog/?p=11686.