For many, the Labour Day weekend is the unofficial end of summer. But for many politicians running in the October municipal election, it's the unofficial start of real campaign.
And there were politicians aplenty Monday at Bell Park, with mayoral and city council candidates easy to spot among the thousands who attended the Labour Day Family Fun Fest.
The day featured plenty of food and activities for youngsters, as well as a steady stream of live music at the Grace Hartman Amphitheatre. In remarks kicking off the event, United Steelworkers President Rick Bertrand said the day is a celebration of the sacrifices workers have made over the years so future generations could enjoy a better life.
“We must remember the workers who built the foundations of this country and fought for health and safety in the workplace,” Bertrand said. “More than ever, the labour movement, all workers – union and non-union – must stand together, shoulder-to-shoulder, to preserve the gains that were fought for.”
In his remarks, Chris Fuller, the new director of Region 8 of the United Food and Commercial Workers union, praised PC Leader Tim Hudak's defeat in the June provincial election.
“The labour movement united in full force and ferocity, and solidarity prevailed,” Fuller said.
Sudbury NDP MP Glenn Thibeault said the June vote illustrated the fact that the fight to protect unionized workers in Ontario isn't over. Voters clearly rejected Hudak's plan for large public sector layoffs, Thibeault said.
The federal election slated for next year pits workers against a Conservative government “even more hostile to unions,” he said.
Thibeault spoke moments after he finished his turn at the dunk tank, where he engaged in some light-hearted banter with the young patrons.
“Hey, wait you're wearing a Baltimore Orioles hat – does that mean you know baseball and have a good arm?” he asked just before one youngster almost dropped him into the tank with a surprisingly strong throw.
Other volunteers in the tank – such as Tyler Kotanko 13, and Andrew Foley, 14, had their own reasons for volunteering.
“My friend asked me – and I need volunteer hours for high school,” said Kotanko.
“For the volunteer hours,” Foley agreed.
Monday's event was also held to support the Greater Sudbury Foodbank. Volunteer Annette Daoust was set up near the food line taking cash donations, encouraging everyone to be generous.
“Come on, people, let's help those who can't help themselves have something to eat on Thanksgiving Day,” Daoust shouted, as coins and bills dropped in her big metal bucket.
Were people being generous?
“Oh, yes, Sudbury is very good, really and truly,” she said. “You see someone drop in a toonie, then someone $5, then someone else $10 or $20.”