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Canadian Labour Congress president Bea Bruske is pictured here at the opening of the CLC convention in Montreal in 2023.Ryan Remiorz/The Canadian Press

The president of the Canadian Labour Congress is targeting Pierre Poilievre as an adversary of the labour movement and unionized workers in Canada.

In a speech to union representatives on Thursday, Bea Bruske said Mr. Poilievre is a “fraud” and called on the labour movement to expose him ahead of the next election.

Ms. Bruske said the Conservative Leader’s efforts to appeal to workers do not align with his track record of voting against workers’ rights and his “silence was deafening” on union-busting acts and anti-worker legislation proposed by provincial conservative governments.

The labour leader is pushing against Mr. Poilievre as the Conservatives aim to garner support from rank-and-file unionized workers, especially blue-collar workers. This group was crucial to the re-election of Ontario Premier Doug Ford in 2022.

Ms. Bruske pointed to the 2023 election of a labour-friendly NDP government in Manitoba as her idea of a success. She said in that campaign, “workers came together and organized and labour worked together to defeat the Conservatives.”

She said all parties should support the CLC’s proposed task force to strengthen collective bargaining and labour conditions.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and NDP leader Jagmeet Singh were both invited to speak at the CLC meeting, but Mr. Poilievre was not.

“We have not invited Mr. Poilievre to this event and that’s because quite frankly we’re focused on worker issues,” Ms. Bruske said, adding he has a “20-year track record of consistently voting against rights and benefits and decent wage increases for workers.”

Greg Lyle, pollster and president of Innovative Research Group, explained that the NDP is garnering support from two voting bases: traditional blue-collar workers focused on the economy and the progressive vote focused on equity issues.

With these two groups clashing on certain issues like job quotas, and the government’s focus on equity issues in recent years, Mr. Lyle said, “it’s created an opening for the Conservatives to reach out to the hard hat vote, the blue-collar vote.”

Throughout her speech, Ms. Bruske criticized the “anti-worker laws” and “union-busting acts” of small-c conservative parties across the country.

“In the middle of a global pandemic, we saw conservative governments pass wage restraint laws to hold essential workers at bay from getting decent wage increases. That is shameful,” Ms. Bruske said.

“The truth is, that whatever Mr. Poilievre tries to claim, conservative goals align with corporate interests and not working families,” she continued.

Mr. Poilievre’s spokesman Sebastian Skamski responded to Ms. Bruske’s speech by saying that Canadian workers “have never been worse off” after nine years of Mr. Trudeau’s government.

“While Jagmeet Singh has sold out working Canadians to secure his own pension and a spot in Justin Trudeau’s government, Pierre Poilievre is the one listening and speaking to workers on shop floors and in union halls from coast to coast to coast,” he said.

Many of Ms. Bruske’s comments echoed sentiments from Mr. Trudeau’s speech to the Liberal caucus on Wednesday, claiming conservatives are against making the “ultrarich” pay. “Conservatives will never make price-gouging companies pay their fair share,” Ms. Bruske said.

Mr. Trudeau told the union leaders Thursday that Mr. Poilievre is not the labour-friendly politician he claims to be.

He pointed to Mr. Poilievre ‘s opposition to the government’s Sustainable Jobs Act and measures for equal pay for equal work in federally regulated workplaces – and said Mr. Poilievre would “cut or roll back” those measures.

“The Conservative Leader likes to pretend he’s there for workers,” Mr. Trudeau said. He criticized Mr. Poilievre’s voting record, saying, “he hasn’t changed in the 19 years he’s been in Parliament.”

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