Monday, October 27, 2008

CAW's Ken Lewenza: A throwback?

By Michael Hammond, Record staff

I thought it would be a shame not to post this photo of Canadian Auto Workers president Ken Lewenza from Thursday's labour rally in front of Kitchener-Conestoga MP Harold Albrecht's office in Kitchener. The photo was taken by Record photographer Mathew McCarthy. I was struck by how easily Lewenza went from calm to passionately loud in half a second (I was right beside a speaker, so maybe it just seemed loud to me). Lewenza then proceeded to deliver a 12-minute speech completely off the cuff. Whether you agree with his politics or not, anyone that has heard this guy speak would be hard pressed to argue that he isn't an effective voice for a certain point of view. It kind of struck me today that he is a speaker along the lines of the labour leaders of decades gone by. He is passionate and not afraid to go on the attack. He really strikes me as a throwback to the firebrand union leaders of decades past.

In the photo, you can see a few kids beside him, one trying his best to shield Lewenza from the rain. Lewenza, ever the shrewd leader, insisted the kids accompany him on the stage, which was the back of a pickup truck. The reason? He said he fears for their generation because the manufacturing industry is disappearing at an alarming rate. The banner behind him says "Manufacturing Matters." Having seen his predecessor Buzz Hargrove speak a number of times, it's not difficult to see why the CAW chose Lewenza as their new president. This guy is intense.


Canadians Have Rejected Harper's Vision, says CAW President

October 15, 2008, 1:41 PM EST


CAW President Ken Lewenza congratulated the majority of Canadian voters who did not support Stephen Harper's uninspiring right-wing vision for the country and held him to a minority government.

"Despite shamelessly manipulating all the powers of incumbency, including pre-election spending announcements and breaking his own law on fixed election dates, Stephen Harper failed to achieve the majority mandate he and his party were looking for," said Lewenza.

"A large majority of Canadians oppose his vision for this country," Lewenza added. "This election has proven that Canadians do not endorse his vision, which means Stephen Harper and his Conservatives will have to work with the opposition parties, focusing on issues that matter most to Canadians."

Lewenza also congratulated CAW members Malcolm Allen who won for the NDP in Welland, Luc Desnoyers who won the seat for the Bloc Quebecois in Rivière-des-Mille-Îles, just north of Montreal and NDP MP Peter Stoffer who won in the Sackville-Eastern Shore riding in Nova Scotia. Lewenza also thanked former NDP MP Peggy Nash for her two and a half years of service and progressive voice in the House of Commons, especially most recently as the industry critic for the NDP.

Lewenza noted that Harper ran an incredibly negative campaign which failed to inspire Canadians, remarking that voter turn-out was at an all-time low.

The CAW campaigned hard to prevent a Harper majority in this election, with rallies, protests, newspaper ads and mass leaflet distribution. The union urged Canadians to vote for the candidates with the best chance of defeating a Conservative. This strategy resulted in CAW support for specified candidates from all four of the opposition parties - including NDP candidates, some Liberals, Green Party leader Elizabeth May, and Bloc Québécois candidates in Québec.

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