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: www.canadianlabour.ca