NSGEU hoping for NDP victory in Nova Scotia election

NUPG News, 15 July 2003

Latest poll has Liberals and Tories tied with NDP just behind

Halifax—The Nova Scotia Government and General Employees Union (NSGEU/NUPGE) is hoping that the New Democrats win the three-way campaign now under way in the province.

The NDP is the only party that openly supports the interests of working people, says union president Joan Jessome.

But she is also realistic. If the NDP cannot win on Aug. 5, and it comes down to a choice between the Conservative government of Premier John Hamm, and the opposition Liberals, led by Danny Graham, Jessome says public employees would be marginally better off if the Conservatives win another term.

The latest opinion poll has the Conservatives tied with the Liberals at 34% and the NDP polling 26%. The remaining 6% expressed no opinion or said they did not plan to vote.

I know who runs the Conservative government—it's John Hamm, Jessome says. I would prefer to have the Conservatives over the Liberals. I prefer the devil I know.

Jessome said the economic policies espoused by the Liberals are frightening because they want to balance the province's books so rapidly that public employees are bound to be placed on the chopping block.

Savage memories

Public employees have not forgotten the last Liberal government (of the late Premier John Savage), she added.

We went 10 years without anything, she said. We've had to fight under a Tory government and fight like hell, but we've been successful. We were not successful in pushing back the wage freeze during the Liberal reign.

Her remarks caught some observers by surprise, given some of the high-pitched battles that public employees have waged with the Conservatives.

Premier Hamm welcomed the news, despite the less-than-ringing endorsement.

We've always attempted to show respect to the public sector, Hamm said. We've had our differences. We've been firm negotiators, hard negotiators, but I believe we've been fair and to a certain extent I hear Joan Jessome acknowledging that.

As for the Liberals, Graham denied that public employees have any reason to be concerned, saying he would cancel a 10% income tax reduction promised by Hamm and this, in turn, would mean more money for government operations rather than less.

Jessome is a clear, strong supporter of the New Democrats, he added.