Working class heroes honoured at Labour Council Dinner

Marc Benoit, Special to TC Media
Working class heroes honoured at Labour Council Dinner
Mayor Leslie O'Shaughnessy

CORNWALL, Ontario – It was a special night for union members and labour activists from eastern Ontario. Members from active locals, the NDP, and other allies of the labour movement gathered on the evening of Wednesday, November 30 to celebrate 60 years of the Labour Council in Cornwall.

Heather Megill, the current President of the Labour Council was the MC for the dinner, which also included an address from keynote speaker Donald Lafleur, vice president of the Canadian Labour Congress. Local labour activist, and former mayor, Brian Lynch also received an award for his commitment to political activism.

“I’m here as vice president of the labour congress to help support the celebration of the 60th anniversary of the Cornwall District Labour Council,” said Glover. “It’s a big celebration, it’s also the 60th anniversary of the Canadian Labour Congress. It seems like just yesterday we were celebrating the 50th.”

“Tonight we’re celebrating. We’re going to be discussing our history, and we have a few passed presidents here tonight….we’re congratulating Cornwall for being around for 60 years, it’s not easy.”

Lynch, the winner of the political activism award, has been a key player in the Cornwall and SDG labour movement for over 40 years. Lynch began his lifelong journey in the labour movement at 19, when he would work at Domtar over the summer to help pay for his university tuition. By the 1980s, Lynch served as a city councilor, becoming mayor in 1985.

Since leaving municipal politics, Lynch has become very active at the provincial and federal political levels, serving as the local NDP’s riding association president, only stepping down in 2015 following the most recent federal election.

“I’m quite shocked, but quite happy to accept this award. I have a lot of time for the local labour council,” said Lynch. “We wouldn’t have the social safety net we do if it wasn’t for the labour movement working with other progressive organizations.”

“At the present time I support all the efforts of the labour movement to protect and improve the social safety net that is being threatened by anti-union politicians trying to privatize and gut social services. It’s more important than ever, we need more union members, it’s the unions that make us stronger.”

“It’s important for all progressive people to work together to create a better, fairer society for everyday people.” 

Tickets for the event were $30, and included, along with the keynote address and presentation from Donald Lafleur, a dinner, and the chance to network with other labour leaders and activists. 

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