O’Toole sings of solidarity.

Some political pundits seemed surprised the other day that conservative leader Erin O’Toole was trying to build bridges to unions. Not all union members vote for new democratic party politicians. If there has been any drift over the years, it has been to both conservatives and liberals.

It is all about leverage. Who wants to waste time with a bunch of do-gooders that are going nowhere? When the Canadian Labour Congress (CLC) joined with the Cooperative Commonwealth Federation (CCF) in 1962, it sealed the fate of the NDP as belonging to the labour movement. And not all Canadians have a favourable attitude about organized labour. Unions are seen, all too often, as an inconvenience. They picket your favourite store, delay the delivery of your new car, interfere with your travel plans and create other problems for the public to force their will on the manufacturers, dealers or service companies. Without that leverage, strikes and other labour disruptions would have less effect.

We have had the new democrats for almost 60 years. Other than the occasional provincial success, it is a party that fails to gain traction with many Canadians.

Frankly, my advice to that party has always been to dump the CLC, join the liberals, work to make it a truly left-of-centre party, and able to carry out the tasks the early CCF had intended to do. What they would find when they joined the liberals is that most of the more progressive federal and provincial unions are already supporting that party.

Conservative support by unions is usually not as direct. The best example of the type of unions providing support for the conservatives is a police union. It is in the union’s self-interest to support the people who stick with the status quo and support a closed society.

There are also the less democratic unions that tend to put a price on their support. They are available to anyone who meets their price.

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