·  media release

In 2015 Federal Election, Let's Fight for the Middle Class

Montreal - United Steelworkers Quebec Director Daniel Roy is calling for mobilization of the middle class to push back against Liberal austerity and to defeat Stephen Harper's Conservative government in the 2015 federal election.

Roy delivered an impassioned opening address today to the Quebec Steelworkers' 50th Annual Assembly. About 500 delegates from across Quebec are attending the three-day conference in Montreal.

Roy pointed out the very strong correlation between union density, distribution of wealth and social equality.

"Equality benefits everyone, both the poor and the rich," he said.

"We have to stop the Conservatives in 2015, or they will change society for generations to come. They have bosses lobbying on their side, they have financial backing. We, the middle class, have numbers on our side. The 2015 federal election will be the most important battle of our lives. We can't leave our children with less than we have."

Conservatives and Liberals are deceiving the middle class, Roy said.

"Wages are falling behind, the debt ratio is very high and the middle class is being stifled. It is even prepared to exchange its social safety nets for cash. Right-wing politicians are exploiting our fear of a drop in status and our thirst for purchasing power to make us shift to their side," he said.

"We are being caught up in their discourse. They are playing us off against each other to reduce the size of government and restrict union action, one of the only mechanisms to curb the concentration of wealth.

As an example, Roy cited the ongoing debate on pension plans, where the Quebec Liberals are focusing primarily on cutting municipal employees' pensions rather than improving public pensions for everyone. 

It's always the middle class that pays

While the middle class is clinging to an ever-decreasing purchasing power, bosses have it easy and are getting richer, Roy noted.

In 2012, CEOs of large Canadian corporations earned 206 times the salary of an average worker. Wealth is being concentrated in fewer hands: in 2010, 8% of the national income was earned by the top 1% of the population, whereas in 1982 it was only 5%. And corporations are now contributing even less to society, which in turn allows them to prosper: the federal corporate income tax rate is now only 15%, as compared to 40% in 1970.

Right-wing Conservative and Liberal discourse, which is constantly reinforced by many in the media, is dragging the middle class down, Roy said.

"Even after tax cuts, it's always the middle class that pays for the ideas put forth by the Right. The middle class pays for it, through job losses, service cuts, the privatization of services and user fees," says Daniel Roy.

"If the cost of having a few more dollars in our pockets is cuts to our public health system, to parental leave benefits, to accessible, quality child care and education, or the loss of good jobs ... it seems to me we have a clear choice. It should be an easy choice, a choice for the society we want! In 2015, we will choose the middle class."


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For further information: Clairandrée Cauchy, 514-774-4001, ccauchy@metallos.ca

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