Week one of the election campaign

An election campaign is no time to discuss serious issues: that famous line from the 1993 federal election seemed, to a large extent, the main truth of the first week of the 2008 federal election campaign. Watching the reports from the hustings, Canadian working families are, with reason, asking themselves the most political question of all: whats in it for us?

Most of the week was consumed about who would be allowed to participate in the national televised debates and on whether the party ads were in good taste or honest: not about what needs to be debated or what advertised promises would respond to our needs.

When finally, toward the end of the week, the media got it right and jobs, the economy and the price of gasoline merited some coverage, some of the fog started to lift . . .

On a day when Ford announced another 500 layoffs in the auto industry, incumbent Prime Minister Harper shrugged his shoulders and announced the government couldn't guarantee workers their jobs and the finance minister didn't back down from his earlier statements that business should not invest in Ontario until its government dropped its corporate tax rate to 10%.

What is the Conservative plan to create jobs? More tax cuts that benefit the rich and the big corporations. Change to immigration rules to bring more skilled labour from abroad ... probably more temporary foreign workers who receive little protection under our laws thus get treated as expendable by their employers. They offer no plan so far to improve EI rules so those losing their jobs now can have decent income support for retraining. And no changes to the temporary foreign worker program to halt the abuse of foreign-trained workers who are only welcome to remain in Canada at the whim of their employer.

The Liberals would spend $1 billion to promote targeted investments in innovative manufacturing.

In contrast, the NDP announced clear goals and targets. They propose to create 40,000 new manufacturing jobs by cancelling $8 billion in corporate tax cuts, and create a green jobs training fund to retrain laid off workers.

Working families want to hear more. So much of our future, of our childrens future, hinges on the outcome of this debate.

Workers need to know who's on their side.