Compared to the general public, support for the Conservatives among union members is only marginally lower overall. However, compared to the general population, support for the New Democrats is actually lower among private sector union members.
From polling data gathered in 2015, the final year of Stephen Harper’s Conservative government, all of this represents a sizable shift.
It implies that the current NDP has fallen short of providing a respectable challenge to the Liberals’ status quo. Another contributing factor is the labor movement’s widespread adoption of a party politics that is increasingly transactional. When read in light of recent studies showing that working-class Canadians seem to be especially receptive to far-right populist overtures, the development is even more startling.
This is in spite of right-wing populists’ well-known hostility toward unions and workers.
Across Canada, unions are developing plans to combat right-wing populism in both society and among their own members.
However, the trend also calls for the labor movement to reflect on itself. Far-right populism is characterized by nationalism, xenophobia, and distrust of international organizations. The labor movement has a long history of capitalizing on nationalist sentiments to gain widespread support from both its own constituents and the general public.