The Vale strike has been over since last July, but the topic was brought up by an audience member at the federal Nickel Belt candidate round table, hosted by Northern Life and CBC.
Federal candidates Joe Cormier of the Liberal Party, Lynne Reynolds of the Conservative Party, Christine Guillot-Proulx of the Green Party and Claude Gravelle, incumbent NDP MP for Nickel Belt, all took part in the discussion at the Howard Armstrong Centre in Hanmer, April 14.
Jamie West, a citizen who attended the event, asked candidates to account for their parties' roles in the almost year-long strike at Vale.
“During the recent strike at Vale...how come there was zero visibility from the Liberal Party and zero visibility from the Conservative Party?” he questioned.
Cormier said his party wasn't in power during the strike.
“First of all, Claude (Gravelle) was the person you voted for,” he said. “The thing about strikes is you've got a guy to represent you. If you want the government involved, you have to ask the government to be involved.”
West asked the Liberal and Conservative candidates why they deserved his vote as they were the two parties “who gave up on us.”
“I think the NDP was the only party that stood up for us,” West said. “The reason why I vote for Claude Gravelle, Glenn Thibeault and France Gélinas is because they bothered to show up and talk to us. They lobbied on our behalf.”
Cormier said the federal Liberals want “to do it right” and get anti-scab legislation passed in the country “once and for all.”
Reynolds said she “very much sympathized” with what West had gone through, and said her party can make a difference because it will likely form the government again.
Guillot-Proulx said the Green Party does “support the anti-scab legislation.”
Another citizen, who identified herself as Andrea, said her husband is a Steelworkers Local 6500 member who was on strike.
“Last year during that strike, the only candidates from parties I saw that were at the rallies supporting us were the NDP and Green Party,” she said.