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June 1, 2012

Merit: What to expect from a Conservative majority

It's been just over a year since the Conservatives were voted into the House of Commons with a majority government and this has already allowed the party to make strong changes, found a panel discussion on the first day of Merit Canada's seventh International Open Shop Conference in Ottawa.

“The calculus of a majority, the way you implement your tactics is far different than the way it is in a minority when you can have an election at any time. You have some time to get the controversial stuff out of the way in the early part of the mandate. And as the end of the mandate approaches then you can begin to try and buy back some of those you may have lost in the early part of the mandate out of necessity,” explained Mike Storeshaw of H + K Strategies, a panelist at a presentation entitled “What to expect from a Conservative majority government."

In the national budget released this spring, the Conservatives presented fair wage legislation and immigration reform.

“All of those measures if we look at them 10 steps back…are laying the groundwork for more economic growth for months and years to come,” said Storeshaw.

One of the biggest issues currently talked about in the construction sector and in government is Bill C-377 regarding union financial disclosure. Nik Nanos, founder and president of Nanos Research, said a recent poll of working Canadians shows points to a “slam dunk” for union disclosure.

Among all working Canadians 83 per cent were in favour and 86 per cent of union workers were in favour. Support was also very strong for the right to a secret ballot.

“Basically means that unions have a significant problem in terms of transparency,” said Nanos. “People expect value for what is being done and they expect a certain level of transparency.”

Nanos said transparency and accountability is a “no brainer.”

“We expect that kind of transparency … Twenty years ago that was expensive to do,” he said. “Now with the internet there’s an expectation that it is low cost … while in the past it was actually quite expensive to be transparent.”

The IOSC is being held at the Westin Hotel in Ottawa and runs May 31 to June 2. IOSC organizers say the event’s presence in the nation’s capital speaks to how the movement has the ear of the federal government.

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