Skip to main content
The Globe and Mail
Support Quality Journalism.
The Globe and Mail
First Access to Latest
Investment News
Collection of curated
e-books and guides
Inform your decisions via
Globe Investor Tools
Just$1.99
per week
for first 24 weeks

Enjoy unlimited digital access
Cancel Anytime
Enjoy Unlimited Digital Access
Get full access to globeandmail.com
Just $1.99per week for the first 24weeks
Just $1.99per week for the first 24weeks
var select={root:".js-sub-pencil",control:".js-sub-pencil-control",open:"o-sub-pencil--open",closed:"o-sub-pencil--closed"},dom={},allowExpand=!0;function pencilInit(o){var e=arguments.length>1&&void 0!==arguments[1]&&arguments[1];select.root=o,dom.root=document.querySelector(select.root),dom.root&&(dom.control=document.querySelector(select.control),dom.control.addEventListener("click",onToggleClicked),setPanelState(e),window.addEventListener("scroll",onWindowScroll),dom.root.removeAttribute("hidden"))}function isPanelOpen(){return dom.root.classList.contains(select.open)}function setPanelState(o){dom.root.classList[o?"add":"remove"](select.open),dom.root.classList[o?"remove":"add"](select.closed),dom.control.setAttribute("aria-expanded",o)}function onToggleClicked(){var l=!isPanelOpen();setPanelState(l)}function onWindowScroll(){window.requestAnimationFrame(function() {var l=isPanelOpen(),n=0===(document.body.scrollTop||document.documentElement.scrollTop);n||l||!allowExpand?n&&l&&(allowExpand=!0,setPanelState(!1)):(allowExpand=!1,setPanelState(!0))});}pencilInit(".js-sub-pencil",!1); // via darwin-bg var slideIndex = 0; carousel(); function carousel() { var i; var x = document.getElementsByClassName("subs_valueprop"); for (i = 0; i < x.length; i++) { x[i].style.display = "none"; } slideIndex++; if (slideIndex> x.length) { slideIndex = 1; } x[slideIndex - 1].style.display = "block"; setTimeout(carousel, 2500); } //

There is speculation that Prime Minister Justin Trudeau might appoint Hassan Yussuff to the Senate.

Yussuff Hassan

Canadian Labour Congress president Hassan Yussuff is stepping down in June after forging relationships with both Conservative and Liberal governments to expand pensions for seniors and wage subsidies to help workers cope with the economic fallout of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Mr. Yussuff is considered one of the most effective labour leaders in recent times, known for his low-key but effective backroom deal-making.

The union leader is not running for re-election when the CLC holds its annual convention in June. There is speculation within political circles in Ottawa that Prime Minister Justin Trudeau might appoint him to the Senate, where he could continue to pursue policy issues.

Story continues below advertisement

“It has been evident throughout the COVID crisis that he was so highly respected by the Prime Minister, by all the senior people in government, that he had very good access and that was very helpful to all of us,” Canadian Chamber of Commerce president Perrin Beatty said. “Hassan is straight-up. He doesn’t play games. He is somebody who genuinely wants to work to find common ground.”

After immigrating to Canada from Guyana, Mr. Yussuff worked as a mechanic and at an auto parts manufacturer in Toronto and joined the labour movement through the Canadian Auto Workers. Mr. Yussuff is the first racialized person to lead the CLC.

In 1999, he was elected executive vice-president of the organization, then became secretary-treasurer in 2002. He narrowly defeated the incumbent president, Ken Georgetti, by 40 votes in 2014 and successfully ran for re-election in 2017.

“It’s one of those times when you’re able to measure whether the work you’ve done had any value and whether the connections you’ve made with people matter and, more importantly, whether I was going to be judged by my skin colour or my ethnicity,” Mr. Yussuff said.

Once Mr. Yussuff was elected president, he focused his efforts on lobbying the then-Harper government to change the Canada Pension Plan.

Mr. Yussuff said the CLC’s lobbying efforts nearly convinced both former finance minister Jim Flaherty and former prime minister Stephen Harper to expand the pension plan, a policy change both had opposed. Mr. Yussuff said soon after, Mr. Harper changed his mind. The expansion was ultimately approved in 2016 under the Liberals.

Story continues below advertisement

Major changes to the pension plan require the agreement of Parliament and seven out of the 10 provinces. “We knew it was a difficult task,” he said.

It took several conversations with Mr. Flaherty to convince him that expanding the CPP was a good idea, Mr. Yussuff said. “I kept saying to him, I said, ‘Jim, you need to read the literature,’” he said. “Finally … he did look at the literature and he said, ‘I think you’ve got a point.’”

Under Mr. Yussuff, the CLC also campaigned for universal child care, wage subsidies, the expansion of sickness benefits and a ban on asbestos. A ban on importing, manufacturing, selling and trading products made with asbestos came into effect in December, 2018.

Mr. Yussuff said his motivation for the campaign to ban asbestos came from being exposed to the toxic mineral years ago while working at General Motors.

Story continues below advertisement

“I’ve not seen another labour leader that understands how to use the levers of power to influence public policy the way he does,” said John Cartwright, president of the Toronto and York Region Labour Council.

“Hassan’s leadership in our labour movement … is very much a reflection of the kind of Canada we’re trying to build together.”

In June, 2020, the Toronto Star published an op-ed written by Mr. Yussuff and Goldy Hyder, president of the Business Council of Canada, making the case for universal child care. Mr. Hyder said Mr. Yussuff contacted him and asked what his position was.

“I said, ... ‘You may be coming at it from social policy and I’m coming at it from economic policy, but we arrived at the same place,’” Mr. Hyder said. “He could basically have said to me … I can’t possibly do any work with you because you’re the guy on the other side of the fence here.’”

Chris Aylward, president of the Public Service Alliance of Canada, said Mr. Yussuff brought to the labour movement an ability to work with whoever is in power, even if he disagrees with their politics.

“He knows, in the best interest of the workers, I’ve got to be able to work with you. I’ve got to be able to communicate with you, even though we may not wear the same political stripes,” Mr. Aylward said.

Story continues below advertisement

Know what is happening in the halls of power with the day’s top political headlines and commentary as selected by Globe editors (subscribers only). Sign up today.

Your Globe

Build your personal news feed

  1. Follow topics and authors relevant to your reading interests.
  2. Check your Following feed daily, and never miss an article. Access your Following feed from your account menu at the top right corner of every page.

Follow topics related to this article:

View more suggestions in Following Read more about following topics and authors
Report an error Editorial code of conduct
Due to technical reasons, we have temporarily removed commenting from our articles. We hope to have this fixed soon. Thank you for your patience. If you are looking to give feedback on our new site, please send it along to feedback@globeandmail.com. If you want to write a letter to the editor, please forward to letters@globeandmail.com.

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff.

We aim to create a safe and valuable space for discussion and debate. That means:

  • Treat others as you wish to be treated
  • Criticize ideas, not people
  • Stay on topic
  • Avoid the use of toxic and offensive language
  • Flag bad behaviour

If you do not see your comment posted immediately, it is being reviewed by the moderation team and may appear shortly, generally within an hour.

We aim to have all comments reviewed in a timely manner.

Comments that violate our community guidelines will not be posted.

UPDATED: Read our community guidelines here

Discussion loading ...

To view this site properly, enable cookies in your browser. Read our privacy policy to learn more.
How to enable cookies