Aug 18, 2011

Stop the blame game when it comes to local government revenues—CUPE BC

BURNABY—The following letter to the editor was submitted by CUPE BC president Barry O’Neill in response to an op-ed by Independent Contractors and Businesses Association president Philip Hochstein in the July 31st edition of the Vancouver Province. The Province chose not to publish O’Neill’s response.

August 3, 2011

To the editor

Vancouver Province                    

It was with no surprise that I read Philip Hochstein’s latest hyperbole-strewn diatribe (“Municipalities have plenty of fat to trim,” July 31). As usual, Mr. Hochstein lays all the woes of our economy at the feet of working women and men—particularly those represented by a union. Local governments are just as evil, he says, because it is the unions that elect them. Mr. Hochstein and the corporations that support him clearly dream of a day when the wages of working people will be cut to the bone, corporate taxes eliminated and corporations declared the only group allowed to give money to political parties.

For some years now, Mr. Hochstein’s claim to fame has been the bizarre argument that if we could just eliminate the good wages that working people have, somehow the world would be a better place. He does not seem to have figured out a basic truth: working people did not cause the economic crisis. On the contrary, it is the wages of working people and the services of small independent business that are keeping this economy alive. Municipal employees, social services workers, emergency service providers and others who earn these wages all buy groceries, clothes, cars, books, prescriptions and other goods in our communities. We get our hair cut, go to restaurants, and yes, even have construction done on our homes.

In trying to lay blame for the problems in our economy, Mr. Hochstein mistakenly points the finger at municipal politicians and by extension the working people who help drive our economy.  With his increasingly overblown and unsupported rhetoric, he only shows how desperate he is becoming in this debate.

There is another way. And that is to work together with local governments, chambers of commerce, boards of trade, community activists and others—as I have been doing for the past number of years—to explore different revenue streams that are desperately needed if we are to prosper. A good start for Mr. Hochstein would be to visit our Ten Percent Shift website (, make his own pledge and start to make a difference, rather than just blowing hot air.

Barry O’Neill

President, CUPE BC

COPE 491