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During the recent Canadian General Election, the Executive Committee of the BLE's Canadian National Legislative Board made many contributions to the election efforts of select candidates including one BLE member.
"The By-Laws of the Canadian National Legislative Board (NLB) are such that the NLB can make contributions totaling $2,000 per year to individual candidates," said George Hucker, BLE International Vice-President & Canadian National Legislative Representative. "But since the last general election three years ago, the level of PAC funds had only reached $6,000."
An Executive Committee worked in conjunction with the Provincial Legislative Board Chairman to determine which candidates would receive PAC donations. The Executive Committee consisted of Brother Hucker, Vice-Chairman Don Anderson, Chairman of the Alberta Provincial Legislative Board (PLB), and Secretary-Treasurer Glenn Wightman, Chairman of the Quebec PLB.
"We worked in consultation with the Provincial Legislative Board Chairmen and determined which candidates either had helped the Brotherhood and the railway industry or had a chance of winning and made what contribution we felt would be appropriate," Brother Hucker said.
The list of candidates who received assistance (and the amount of the contribution) is as follows:
"Greg is a locomotive engineer and member of BLE Division 657 in Revelstoke, B.C.," said Brother Wayne Wiederspiel, British Columbia PLB Chairman. "He decided to take on a Reform heavyweight, so the Brotherhood gave him funding to try and help him succeed.
"Along with the Brotherhood's funding, Greg also received matching funds from the Canadian Labour Congress and the B.C. Federation of Labour.
"Greg was not elected, but his experience will help in future elections and will help the Brotherhood set up processes for both funding and the use of campaign workers from the Brotherhood," Wiederspiel said.
Brother Hucker said Edwards served as a positive example for other BLE members.
"It is important that the Brotherhood have members such as Greg who are willing to take a chance and run for public office," Hucker said. "Had Greg been elected, we know that he would not have hid when the tough decisions on support of railways and labour legislation had to be made."
"As the Minister of Labour, Young imposed back to work legislation, Bill C-77, upon the striking railway workers. This lead to the Adams' Award, which had long term effects on the membership," Brother Wightman said.
"It is hoped that his defeat will send a message to Ministers of the Crown that working people can have an influence on their continuing ability to hold public office. I know that the Brotherhood's contribution helped Godin's victory."
According to New Brunswick PLB Chairman George Love, Young's lack of support for the rail industry lead to his defeat.
"We had a feeling that the Maritimes were going against the Liberals Young in particular," Brother Love said. "Young had done nothing to support the railway industry in the East or its workers, and our support of the NDP was justified."
"Francine Lalonde, the Bloc MP from Mercier, was a great help to the Brotherhood in our efforts to have Bill C-77 legislation amended," said Brother Hucker. "Madame Lalonde is a former union officer in the Quebec labour movement and once the Brotherhood asked for her help, she became a powerful advocate within the House to make some badly need changes to Bill C-77."
"The Brotherhood decide to support NDP candidate Bergman against the sitting Liberal MP for Kenora-Rainy River," said Brother Jim Houston, Ontario PLB Chairman.
"The sitting MP, even though he is a trainman on leave of absence from Canadian Pacific, with his application date for locomotive engineer training protected and the union protecting his seniority, has done nothing to help the railway workers.
"MP Bob Nault did not come to the defense of the operating trades at CPR when Minister Young pushed through the reactionary Bill C-77. Mr. Nault was in hiding when the chips were down and support was needed. There was no way we were going to help him with funding from our membership."
"Bill Blakie has long supported railway workers and our efforts in the House," said Jim Merrifield, Manitoba PLB Chairman. "It was only right that we helped his reelection with both money and campaign workers."
"These two individuals have helped the railway unions and workers on many different issues whether they were in the House or not," said Stu Reed, Saskatchewan PLB Chairman. "Dick Proctor will be a good advocate for trade unionists in the House."
"Ray Martin is a former leader of the NDP in Alberta and was effective in its Legislative Assembly. The Reform Party in Alberta had to know that trade unionists in Alberta were going to work against them," said Brother Don Anderson, Alberta PLB Chairman. "Ray Martin would have been an effective advocate for labour in the House." ·
Clockwise, from left: Andre Bourgeois, Secretary-Treasurer of the Canadian Pacific General Committee of Adjustment; George Broda, Secretary-Treasurer of the Canadian National G.C. of A.; BLE Canadian Director Gilles Hallé; Frank Swenor, Secretary-Treasurer of the Rail Canada Traffic Controllers; and Bob Broka, BLE International Office Director of Records.
BLE General Secretary-Treasurer Russell Bennett and International Office Director of Records Robert Broka travelled from Cleveland to Montreal this month to smooth-out problems that arose with implementation of a new dues disbursement procedure for Canadian divisions.
The initial change was authorized by delegates attending the BLE's 1996 international convention in Detroit.
"The participants presented ideas to fine-tune the procedure and make it easier for everyone," Bennett said. "The balance of cooperation and communication we received made the problems disappear quickly.
"I want to thank all the participants for their part in helping implement these necessary changes."
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