Graham Hughes The Canadian Press Magali Picard, during a speech given on the occasion of her taking office as president of the FTQ, last January 19
The leader of the Conservative Party of Quebec (PCQ), Éric Duhaime, who has repeatedly criticized the unions, met Monday with the new president of the Quebec Federation of Labor (FTQ), Magali Picard. The latter, who recently called him a “populist”, reiterates that he “does not share his vision at all”.
The meeting took place with respect, both Mr. Duhaime and Ms. Picard said, after meeting at the offices of the FTQ in Montreal. The Conservatives had asked for this tete-a-tete in order to create a dialogue with the trade union center and to find common points despite their ideological disagreements. “I was not there to sell him a membership card”, underlined the leader of the PCQ.
If the latter considers that the “channel of communication” is now open between his political formation and the FTQ, Magali Picard is not of the same opinion. “Do we want to work with that party? No,” she argued, in an interview with Le Devoir.
Their few similar positions, such as the demand for a reform of the voting system, are the subject of strong support in the population, argued the first woman and first native elected to head the central union. “Everyone loves apple pie,” she illustrated.
It is not surprising, however, to see how little common ground there is between the PCQ and the FTQ because of their ” very different values,” she says.
Eric Duhaime, however, believes that it is healthy to be able to discuss, despite differing opinions. “Instead of calling each other names in the media, sometimes it's more constructive to meet or pick up the phone and chat,” he said.
In an interview with Soleil in January, Ms. Picard expressed concern that 12.91% of voters voted for the PCQ on October 3. “As a trade unionist, it sends the message to me that I haven't done my job properly, that I haven't gone far enough in my communications.”
She also called the PCQ leader of “populist” without “any depth”.
Visions “diametrically opposed” in health
In terms of health, the positions of the PCQ and the FTQ are “diametrically opposed”, underlined Ms. Picard. If Mr. Duhaime is in favor of a greater contribution from the private sector in health, the central trade union, she would like “to see it disappear”. “We don't get along at all,” she sums up.
Among the Conservatives, like the unions, however, there is “no appetite” for the use of “compulsory overtime” (TSO) in the health network, underlines Éric Duhaime. “We are discouraging people who have a calling from continuing to work in our system,” he laments.
In late January, Conservative health critic Dr. Karim Elayoubi, had called for a bill to eradicate the TSO within two years. He had claimed that his party was not “anti-union” but rather pro-state efficiency.
Mr. Duhaime, a long-time critic of unions, criticizes them in particular for adopting a “corporatist approach”. “By definition, they are supposed to represent workers. But one gets the impression that they represent more certain members who pay dues rather than workers.
In 2013, Éric Duhaime published an essay entitled Free us from the unions!. The latter “have truly become the main force of inertia that today prevents the Quebec to modernize,” he argued.
With Isabelle Porter