Skip to main content

Trudeau's speech to union delegates took aim at Conservatives

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau delivers a speech as he is joined on stage by Pennsylvania Governor Josh Shapiro during a reception hosted by the Consul General of Canada in New York, Tom Clark in Philadelphia, Pa., on Tuesday, May 21, 2024. (Sean Kilpatrick / The Canadian Press) Prime Minister Justin Trudeau delivers a speech as he is joined on stage by Pennsylvania Governor Josh Shapiro during a reception hosted by the Consul General of Canada in New York, Tom Clark in Philadelphia, Pa., on Tuesday, May 21, 2024. (Sean Kilpatrick / The Canadian Press)
Share

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s trip to the United States targeted U.S. lawmakers, but also his political opponents in Canada, as his speech to one of the largest unions in North America attempted to make the case that his party cares more about workers’ rights than Pierre Poilievre’s Conservatives.

A senior government source told CTV News drawing that comparison between the Trudeau Liberals and the Conservative party was one of the goals of the prime minister’s 25-minute speech to delegates of the Service Employees International Union (SEIU).

In the worker-focused speech, Trudeau highlighted the importance of unions and cast himself as a true champion of the working class.

"There are politicians who pretend that they’re there for workers, but when you look at their track record, that’s demonstrably false," Trudeau told the crowd of thousands inside the Philadelphia convention centre.

The Liberals, Conservatives and NDP have been trying to position themselves as the only true parties fighting for unions ahead of an election, which could happen in the fall of 2025.

Last month, Poilievre delivered a campaign-style speech to workers from Canada’s Building Trades Unions annual conference in Gatineau, Quebec.

Trudeau and NDP leader Jagmeet Singh also gave speeches at the conference. The Conservative leader has spent the last two years travelling the country as well, painting himself as the only leader who understands the difficulties working-class Canadians have felt during the affordability crisis.

In statement to CTV News Conservative party spokesman Sebastian Skamski said “Pierre Poilievre is the only one listening and speaking to Canadian workers on shop floors and in union halls from coast to coast to coast.”

In Philadelphia, Trudeau attempted to draw an even more stark comparison between the Liberals and the previous Conservative government pointing out his party lowered eligibility for Old Age Security from age 67 to age 65.

Additionally, Trudeau highlighted his government’s anti-scab legislation, but failed to mention it was part of the Liberal-NDP supply and confidence agreement brokered in 2022 between Singh and Trudeau. The Prime Minister touted another part of the agreement, 10 days of paid sick leave for federally-regulated workers. Each one of the pro-worker policies were applauded by the delegates at the convention.

"My first thought was, we’re going to move to Canada," said Ayanna Vanderbilt, an SEIU delegate from San Jose, California.

Canada’s commitment to reduce child-care fees to $10 per day within two years is another thing Vanderbilt would like to see in the U.S.

"Working with providing child care, because dealing with our elders and dealing with our children, two of our most vulnerable populations, is one of the areas that I think in the United States, we are trying to do and making the most of it with what we have. But the efforts that Canada is putting forth, I think Canada could learn from," said Vanderbilt.

While his pro-union message seemed to resonate with the thousands of delegates in the convention hall, Prime Minster Trudeau is hoping it will also land with Canadian workers in time for the next election.

"It’s quite pathetic that Justin Trudeau has to leave Canada and speak to a foreign audience which is unaware of his disastrous record just to get some applause," added Skamski in the emailed statement to CTV News. “After nine years of Justin Trudeau’s inflationary deficits and punishing taxes, Canadian workers have never been worse off.”

IN DEPTH

Opinion

opinion

opinion Don Martin: How a beer break may have doomed the carbon tax hike

When the Liberal government chopped a planned beer excise tax hike to two per cent from 4.5 per cent and froze future increases until after the next election, says political columnist Don Martin, it almost guaranteed a similar carbon tax move in the offing.

CTVNews.ca Top Stories

Putin outlines his terms for truce with Ukraine

Russian President Vladimir Putin promised Friday to "immediately" order a ceasefire in Ukraine and start negotiations if Kyiv began withdrawing troops from the four regions annexed by Moscow in 2022 and renounced plans to join NATO. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy rejected what he called an ultimatum by Putin to surrender more territory.

Local Spotlight

Stay Connected