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Canada needs unions in order to prosper: Hugh Segal

TORONTO, Dec. 7, 2013 /CNW/ - Active unions and free collective bargaining are essential to building a prosperous Canada and a stable middle class, Conservative Senator Hugh Segal told Unifor's Ontario Regional Council this morning, downtown Toronto.

" My Canada is one where trade unions and free collective bargaining make Canada a better place to live," Segal said in an unconventional address by a high-profile Conservative to a union gathering.

Earlier this year, Segal led Senate efforts to amend the Harper government's anti-union Bill 377.

"It was bad law, it was unconstitutional," Segal said, adding that he will continue to oppose the bill if the Harper government attempts to revive it.

"As I stand before you today, I will stand in the Senate and oppose it again."

Unifor National President Jerry Dias said the union appreciates the support that Segal has shown for organized labour, despite his Conservative Party's anti-union policies.

"Senator Segal understands the vital role unions play in our society," he said. "He has shown that he is a man of principle, and that's what Canada needs today."

Segal pointed out that Canada's first Prime Minister Sir John A MacDonald, also a Conservative, supported strong labour laws for Canada, believing that collective bargaining was essential to building Canada into a prosperous nation.

"My friends, that's the kind of conservative you have standing in front of you this morning," Segal said.

Segal also pledged to oppose any attempt to get rid of the Rand formula, which sets out that all workers in a unionized workplace shall pay dues, even if they choose to not join the union.

The video of Senator Segal's speech will be available on YouTube by 12:30 p.m. today.

The Unifor Ontario Regional Council is meeting for the first time this weekend, December 6-8 downtown Toronto at the Sheraton Centre, bringing together more than 750 elected delegates from local unions across the country.

Unifor is Canada's largest union in the private sector, with more than 300,000 members. It was founded Labour Day weekend with the merging of the Canadian Auto Workers and the Communications, Energy and Paperworkers union.

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