CLC Statement on the Economic Crisis

Working Families Demand a Fundamental Change

A Statement on the Economic Crisis by Canadian Labour Congress President Ken Georgetti

OTTAWA – Canadian working families will bear the brunt of a deep economic crisis caused by self-serving and arrogant corporate bosses, aided and abetted by complacent, and do-nothing governments. Our jobs and our pensions are at risk. Today, we demand nothing less than a fundamental change of course.

Immediately after the election, whoever is Prime Minister must develop an emergency national action plan with input from labour. This must include measures to audit, re-regulate and shore up our battered financial system, and concrete measures to save and create jobs through major public investments and changes to unfair trade deals.

We cannot leave it to those who got us into this mess to get us out of it. For years our corporate and political elites have been telling us that the economy was “fundamentally sound”, even though our wages were stagnating, good manufacturing and forestry jobs were being lost in the tens of thousands, and ordinary working families were going deeper and deeper into debt just to stay afloat.

The financial crisis brought on by an utterly irresponsible and transparently self serving elite of bankers and outright corporate criminals now clearly threatens to drag us into a global depression. Those in Canada and around the world who proclaimed the virtues of deregulated global finance and do nothing governments stand naked and discredited.

We can pretend that all of the damage was done by Wall Street. But it was Canada’s own financial insiders who were behind the Asset Backed Commercial Paper debacle, and Canada’s own Minister of Finance who refused to get involved, preferring “a market led solution” which left huge holes in our pension plans.

The Canadian banks and their economists assure us today that our own financial system is sound. We hope this is the case, but we have had no independent auditing of the risks to the system, and no clear idea of the impact of this crisis on our pension plans and on the savings of working families.

No one today can parrot yesterday’s official line that the “fundamentals” of the Canadian economy are sound. The meltdown of our Canadian stock market over the past two weeks has been even worse than in the US. Far from providing us with a cushion, our once booming resource sector now seems headed for just as deep and punishing a crisis as the hard-hit manufacturing sector which has now shed more than 300,000 jobs.

At one level, we are paying the price of a hugely inflated credit bubble, the product of government regulators failing to reign in the excesses of self-serving global financial elites who personally pocketed billions getting us into this mess.
But the roots of this crisis lie deeper. In a world, where workers wages have been stagnant while corporate profits and executive pay have soared to obscene levels, the only source of growth has been debt fuelled spending. In Canada today, as in the US, family debt is at a record high because our economy has not worked for working people.

The economy will not be fixed by Wall Street bailouts, or by platitudes about the need for a steady hand on the tiller as we go into the abyss. Unemployment will soar if governments, at the national and international level, do not take real measures to fix the real problem of stagnant wages and huge trade imbalances.

It is simply no longer an option for governments to stand back and do nothing, and pretend that all is well. The Emperor of deregulated global capitalism has no clothes.

This financial debacle demands a fundamental change of direction now to protect working families’ interests.

The Canadian Labour Congress, the national voice of the labour movement, represents 3.2 million Canadian workers. The CLC brings together Canada’s national and international unions along with the provincial and territorial federations of labour and 130 district labour councils. Web site:


  • nice work, I posted this to Labourstart.


  • No one can bring back the jobs that were based on supplying American demand based on unsustainable debt.

    Stock markets fluctuate. The fall in the Canadian stock market itself is not a big problem for ordinary Canadians. The stock market is currently back where it was a few years ago but it will go back up. I’m down about 22 per cent in my RRSP but I’m buying stocks, not selling, and not panicking.

    The left should stop pretending that this is the United States.

  • Hey Joe,

    Why not roll up your sleeves and do a little fishing in the morning, maybe hunting in the afternoon, and a little poetry reading at night, without actually being any of them.

    It is not the left pretending this is the US it is the corporate ones that think this is the US and only through regulation by government policy whose design is typically initiated by the left, prevents the corporate types from realizing their dream.

    Hearing Mr Harper today talk about his “plan” was quite odd really. After the speech I am pretty confused on what the actual meaning of a “plan”.

    It apparently is somehow related to the building of the Ark or some biblical related folk tale. Apparently the Tories have had their “new” plan rolled out for the last year. Apparently now the tories are admitting that they have know since last year that things have been happening, as Mr Harper stated today.

    Gee the invisible handed plan seems to be a swift moving agile beast as it has lurked in the shadows for a year now, somehow secretly fending off economic disaster.

    Mr Harper was actually lost today in his own circular logic. Mus have been the bumpy road I was driving on or something, but somehow his logic seemed quite misconfigured.

    THe tories do not get it, and I am very glad they don;t as it is gonna cost them votes. We have a huge financial hurricane blowing and it has world wide consequences.

    Damn, the Australians lowered interest rates by a full point today and they are not even bordering on the US, at least the last time I checked.

    Oddly enough I feel comfort in Mr. Harper’s confusion as it at last personifies his economic policy understanding. They have no clue how to react, Keynesian has been out of the rightwing vogue for decades now. It is probably too late for them to start figuring that stuff out.

    How can he say that this is not a time for governement spending. We have done quite a job at paying down the debt.

    What are we forever relinquished to surpluses in this country. People had better get over themselves, we are going to have to start running deficits again. It is a culture change that we as progressive economists have got to make more palatable for the progressive politicians.

    We need to first start with the recession fighting programs like EI that have money. Oh sorry, did have money, but somehow 56 billions has disaappeared, anyway it did have money, and we need to renew and restore the ability of the EI program to function as it was designed. It has been transformed into a special compensatory leave subsidy program for the business world. We need to expand as outlined in teh CLC’s statement today.

    There is a ton of green innovation programs that could be looked at as well. Forestry and manufacurting could be rip for these strategic investments and job creators. It is the only way the world is going to make it out of this. Green innovation has got to become ubiquitous through out the world and it will and it must pervade the policy minds of levels of all governments, backed up by wisely allocated public and private investment.

    Just a couple of points not a rant, I think.

  • Dear Joe, the stock market will go up based on what? um, i guess the whole thing shifts forward a notch or two, or a few trillion, and then…??
    there are limits to what people and the earth will take. And this whole nonsense in the press about ‘de-leveraging’ looks actually like ratcheting to me.

    but what do i know. i’m a farmer. but not a socialist, by gum, unless that is defined as a association of friends, as Duncan’s post over at rabble would have (and yes, I deserved that article, admittedly, for all my rants.)

    anyhoo, yes, thanks Andrew and CLC for this item, i did see it at the CLC site earlier when searching for something useful and hopeful, and was pleased. still, i honestly wish there was some other way to say what we want instead of throwing in words like ‘capitalism’, from latin ‘capus’ ‘head’, which implies hierarchy but has also been retranslated ‘natural capitalism’, which i would be ok with if it meant that Nature enjoyed the fruits. Of course this is not at all what ‘natural capitalism’ has meant in theory nor practice, rather more exploitation in the name of green [sic].

    ah, words, love ’em, hate ’em.


  • Joe I am glad you are still buying. Keep it up! Go Joe Go!

  • Our economy has been artificially inflated by the increasing cost of fuel that has benefitted western canada while many jobs have left the country and moved to lower cost production areas.

    I think the only way to really fix the global economic crisis is to redesign the World Trade Organization and its free trade policies. Labour and basic employment and wage standards should be in place before being allowed to enter into ‘free trade’. Setting basic standards may have made companies think twice before relocating.

    Another problem is that there is a lack of protection and aid for a large number of workers. Those workers that have become contract workers or are involved in other precarious jobs are not eligible for many of the unemployment benefits enjoyed by other workers.

    Also, bail out packages for banks should come with stipulations that do not allow CEOs to profit.

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