Letter in solidarity with Donald Lafleur

Donald Lafleur will be hauled on the carpet at the CLC National Office in Ottawa TODAY for attending, as an individual, the GFTU Conference in Damascus on September 7 & 8, 2019, and for calling for an end to illegal Canadian economic sanctions on Syria.

Hassan Yussuff,

President, Canadian Labour Congress (hyussuff@clc-ctc.ca)

I am writing in support of Brother Donald Lafleur.

I have known Brother Lafleur for thirty years since we both served as National Grievance Officers at the CUPW National Office in the late 1980’s. He was a dedicated and tireless representative of postal workers on the shop floor and out on their routes. His legacy in the CUPW will be that he was instrumental in bringing the rural routers into the CUPW, thus fulfilling the crucial union principle of “organizing the unorganized.”

The CBC attacked Donald because he attended the conference of the General Confederation of Trade Unions of Syria in Damascus last week and made a statement to the effect that economic sanctions on Syria should be removed. Apparently, Canadians with high profiles are forbidden to challenge the federal government and media narrative on Syria on pain of excoriation in the media.

In my opinion, Donald did nothing wrong, and does not need to apologize for taking the initiative to go to Syria. He used his vacation days to visit Syria without taking a penny of CLC funds and did not present himself as a spokesperson of the CLC at the GFTU trade union conference in Damascus.

Syria is a sovereign country and member of the United Nations torn apart by a nine-year-long U.S. regime-change operation, in which the Harper and Trudeau governments played a dirty role. More Canadians should take the opportunity to travel to listen and learn about the real effects of Canada’s illegal and scandalous foreign policy in places such as Venezuela and Syria, including the damage to the lives of Venezuelan and Syrian workers caused by Canadian economic sanctions.

I was very upset to hear your disparaging remarks about Brother Lafleur on the CBC’s show “As It Happens” last night. I was even more upset by your intention to call Donald on the carpet today with the view perhaps of even asking for his resignation. I am guessing that Donald regards your comments as nothing less than a stab in the back, after his steadfast support for you over the years. Furthermore, it seems to me that your views on Syria are tainted by your association with the ruling Liberal Party, which, in government, is continuing the illegal regime-change operation in that country that was begun under the previous Harper Conservative government.

Frankly, Brother Lafleur has a lot more support in the labour movement than you. He comes from a real, dues-paying union which is in good standing with the CLC whereas you, a member of UNIFOR, are still in office thanks to fake credentials begged from another union. You should think twice about asking for Brother Lafleur’s resignation or even about disciplining him.

If we believe in democracy, trade unionists can visit another country without accepting our government’s positions on international affairs. In fact, a healthy trade-union movement would offer a different analysis of world issues than Canada’s government, which is subservient to corporations. The solidarity actions of a leading trade unionist serve as an example to us all in removing barriers of distrust and misunderstanding, permitting us to learn from the struggles of the Global South.

Rather than disciplining Donald, I think you should commend him for taking a courageous stand for international trade union solidarity and against policies of the Trudeau government, such as economic sanctions, which harm our brothers and sisters in many faraway countries of the world.

Ken Stone

member, Congress of Union Retirees of Canada (CURC)

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