- Buzz Hargrove
image_size = 150px
name = Basil Eldon "Buzz" Hargrove
birth_date = March 8, 1944
Bath, New Brunswick, Canada
occupation = Trade unionist
Basil Eldon "Buzz" Hargrove (born
March 8, 1944, Bath, New Brunswick, Canada) is the former National President of the Canadian Auto Workerstrade union. He also serves as a Vice-President on the executive committee of the Canadian Labour Congress.Verify source|date=September 2008
Hargrove first became involved in the automotive sector as a line worker for the Chrysler assembly plant in Windsor, Ontario. He succeeded
Bob Whiteas president of the CAW in 1992. On July 8, 2008, he announced his intention to retire, before he turned 65, in September 2008. The CAW National Executive Board and staff endorsed then CAW Local 444president Ken Lewenza to replace Hargrove as National President, and on September 6, 2008, Lewenza was formally elected to the position at a special union convention.
In 1998, Hargrove co-authored the book "Labour of Love: The Fight to Create a More Humane Canada" with Wayne Skene. Also in 1998,
Brock Universityhonoured him with a Doctorate of Laws degree. He has received honorary doctorates from the University of Windsorin 2003, and from Wilfrid Laurier Universityin 2004. In 2008, he was made an Officer of the Order of Canada. [cite web|url=http://www.gg.ca/media/doc.asp?lang=e&DocID=5447|title=Governor General Announces New Appointments to the Order of Canada]
Hargrove is seen as a proponent of
social unionism, and his supporters claim that he has steered the CAW to become a more activist union. In the field of electoral politics, however, under his leadership the CAW has broken from its longtime support for the left-wing New Democratic Partyand lent increasing support instead for the Liberal Party of Canada.
Hargrove is married to Denise Small, a
mediationofficer for the Ontario Labour Relations Board.
1999 Ontario Election
Hargrove was the leading advocate of
tactical voting(sometimes also called "strategic voting") in the 1999 Ontario provincial election. Hargrove proposed this approach in an attempt to defeat the Progressive Conservative Party government of Mike Harris. Hargrove's support for this approach, and his union's subsequent commitment of resources in its pursuit, marked the CAW's first major departure from its previous policy of unconditional support of the Ontario New Democratic Party, although the CAW had been somewhat estranged from the Ontario NDP ever since the union had opposed the "Social Contract" austerity measures imposed by the previous 1990-1995 Bob RaeNDP government. The 1999 election, however, was the first time that the union did not at least formally endorse the NDP, instead urging its members (and all voters) to vote for whichever candidate, NDP or Liberal, had the best chance of defeating the Progressive Conservative candidate.
Tactical voting not only failed to prevent the re-election of the Tories to another majority government, it was blamed by New Democrats for the party's poor electoral performance, returning only 9 Members of Provincial Parliament, down from 17 in the 1995 election.
An attempt, following the 1999 Ontario election, to expel Hargrove from the Ontario NDP was defeated, but Hargrove's relationship with provincial leader
Howard Hamptonhas remained acrimonious.
Federal Politics Pre-2006
Hargrove was also a long-time critic of federal NDP leader
Alexa McDonough, calling for her resignation on several occasions. He criticized McDonough for her effort at modernizing federal NDP's policy, which involved moving towards the political centre and adopting "Third Way" policies. Hargrove stated repeatedly that NDP should move to the left instead.
In 2002, he planned to run for the NDP leadership, but found a "notable lack of enthusiasm" for his potential candidacy. He instead endorsed CAW lawyer
Joe Comartinwho placed fourth.
Hargrove was initially much more publicly supportive of McDonough's successor,
Jack Layton, and the CAW unequivocally supported the federal NDP in the 2004 federal election. The NDP made significant gains in popular vote, although they only gained 5 seats for a total of 19, well short of its aspirations of 40 or more.
Hargrove reportedly played a role in bringing Prime Minister
Paul Martinand Jack Laytontogether to negotiate a budgetagreement to keep the federal Liberal government in power in exchange for including NDP proposals in the 2005 federal budget.
However, Hargrove sharply criticized Layton when he joined with Conservative leader
Stephen Harperand Bloc Québécoisleader Gilles Duceppeto bring down the Liberal government with a vote of non-confidence in November 2005. He also echoed his earlier criticism of McDonough by suggesting that Layton, too, was not sufficiently moving the party to the left. The eventual bringing down of the Liberal minority government led to a Conservative minority in the subsequent election.
2006 Federal Election
For the 2006 Canadian federal election, Hargrove resumed his previous endorsement of tactical voting and urged CAW members (and all voters) to vote for whichever candidate, NDP or Liberal had the best chance of defeating the Conservative candidate. [cite web
title=Vote Liberal where NDP can't win: CAW boss
accessdate=2006-07-28] During the final days of the 2006 campaign, Hargrove urged all progressive voters in Canada to vote Liberal, which he claimed was the only party that could prevent the Conservative Party of Canada from winning the election. He publicly stated that "ideology does not matter" when the reporter asked about his position.
Despite the qualification of his stated support for NDP incumbents and candidates in 40 "winnable" ridings, Hargrove's speech was widely reported by the media as an endorsement of the Liberals. When questioned by a reporter on this, Hargrove also stated that he "did not like the campaign that Jack Layton was running," criticizing Layton for "spending too much time attacking the Liberals."Fact|date=February 2007 No doubt his photo-op appearance with Paul Martin in matching CAW jackets contributed to this impression. He has been reported as saying that voters should support incumbent NDP MPs and NDP candidates in ridings "where they can defeat the Conservatives."
Break with NDP
Hargrove's strategy caused some controversy among long-time NDP activists and union members who saw him as reneging on core labour and left-wing values. Many of Hargrove's detractors argued that they were significantly affected by the Liberals measures to cut the deficit in the mid-1990s, which strained the health care system. Hargrove's controversial endorsements included
Toyotamanager Greig Mordueand Belinda Stronachof Magna International, who Hargrove supported for Canada; Toyota maintained a non-unionized North American workforce and Mordue had successfully resisted CAW efforts to organize the Cambridge plant, while Magna was traditionally anti-union under former CEOs Frank Stronachand Donald WalkerFact|date=February 2007 . In response, they carried anti-Hargrove placards at rallies and distributed buttons with the slogan: "Buzz Off. I'm voting NDP."cite web
title=How Hargrove upset labour, NDP
Traditional NDP supporters were also opposed to aligning their movement with the Liberals, who were embroiled in the Sponsorship and income trust scandals.
Despite being one of Hargrove's 40 endorsed NDP candidates,
Sid Ryan, president of the Ontario chapter of the Canadian Union of Public Employeesand the candidate for Oshawa, blamed his loss on tactical voting. Ryan claimed Hargrove's statement confused potential NDP supporters in his riding and caused some of them to vote Liberal even though the Liberal candidate was not a viable contender. A poll in Oshawa found that the proportion of voters sampled who initially planned to vote for Ryan before switching their support to the third-place Liberal candidate late in the campaign (thinking it might help prevent a national Conservative victory) significantly exceeded the narrow margin of Ryan's loss - if the poll is accurate then the tactic did indeed result in Tory Colin Carrie's election.
Some pointed out that Hargrove's call for strategic voting has also caused financial harm to the NDP under Canada's system of public financing for federal elections, which pays a subsidy to each federal party based on their popular vote.
On January 18 2006, Hargrove made a widely criticized speech at a Liberal rally in
Ontariowhere he urged voters in Quebecto vote for the Bloc Québécoisin preference to the Conservatives, calling Conservative leader Stephen Harper's view of Canada "a separatist view" and recommending "anything to stop the Tories" including, strangely enough, voting for a declared separatist party. The statements forced Liberal leader Paul Martinto defend Harper later in the day by saying "I have profound differences with Mr. Harper, but I have never questioned his patriotism". Afterwards, many commentators viewed Hargrove as having been an active hindrance to the gaffe-filled Liberal campaign.
Hargrove also attacked the principles of Albertans in the speech saying about Harper "His sense, is about Alberta, where the wealth in Alberta, everyone recognizes, is much greater than it is anywhere in Canada. The principles that (Harper's) brought up with, and believes in coming out of there, don't sit well with the rest of Canada." (Harper was actually born and raised in
Toronto, Ontario, moving to Alberta only in his early twenties) [cite web
title=Hargrove hits Harper as quasi-separatist
The Globe and Mail
accessdate=2006-07-28] [cite web
title=Hargrove out of touch and out to lunch
work=The Calgary Sun
Near the end of the 2006 campaign, sensing the momentum that would result in a Conservative victory, NDP leader
Jack Laytondefied Paul Martin and Hargrove's pleas to unite all progressive voters under the Liberal banner. Layton intensified his attacks on the Liberal scandals, while also pledging to use the NDP's clout in a minority government to "keep the Conservatives in check".
The NDP increased their caucus to 29 seats, a significant gain over the 2004 election. Hargrove afterwards argued that strategic voting had in fact prevented the Conservatives from forming a majority government and suggested that the three main opposition parties could form a coalition to get several key pieces of legislation passed.
uspension from the NDP
Following the election, on February 11, 2006, the provincial executive body of the Ontario NDP voted to suspend Hargrove's NDP membership and effectively expel him from the party for supporting the Liberals. This move also automatically suspended his membership in the federal party. Hargrove stated he was "shocked and surprised" by this decision, but he would not apologize for his actions during the 2006 election nor would he commit not to endorse candidates for other parties in the future. [cite web
title=NDP gives Buzz the boot
accessdate=2006-07-28] On February 23, 2006, Hargrove also confirmed that he would not appeal the Ontario NDP executive body's decision. [cite web
title=Hargrove won't try to rejoin the NDP
Although Jack Layton and Sid Ryan did not support Hargrove's tactical voting, they opposed Hargrove's suspension from the NDP.Fact|date=February 2007
The CAW retaliated against the NDP for Hargrove's suspension by severing all union ties with the Party, a move formalized at the CAW's 2006 convention. [cite web
title=Auto workers union severs ties with NDP
work=Toronto Star - Terri Theodore
2006 CAW leadership race
On December 9, 2005, Hargrove confirmed that he would seek a sixth and final three-year term as CAW President at the union's convention in
Vancouver, British Columbiain August, 2006.Fact|date=February 2007 This would be the final term that Hargrove would be eligible to serve under the CAW constitution, which provides for mandatory retirement at age 65. Hargrove will be 62 years old by the time of the upcoming CAW convention.
On February 8, 2006, "
Maclean's" reported rumours that, for the first time, Hargrove may face an opposing candidate for the CAW presidency. [cite web
title=The Buzz fracture
CAW Local 1256chair and Oakville and District Labour Council President Willie Lambertwas subsequently confirmed as an opposition candidate. [cite web
title=Hargrove faces challenge
accessdate=2006-07-28] In 1999, Lambert won the support of over 40% of voting delegates at that year's
Ontario Federation of Labour(OFL) convention, in an unsuccessful challenge to Wayne Samuelsonfor the OFL presidency. [cite web
title=OFL delegates sound warning to leadership
work=New Labour Press
On February 13, 2006, the CAW's former chief
economist Sam Gindinraised a series of questions about the political, electoral and bargaining orientation of the CAW in an open letter addressed to Hargrove. That letter, Hargrove's response and Gindin's response to Hargrove were posted on the Canadian political website " rabble". [cite web
title=Raising difficult questions for the Left
accessdate=2006-07-28] Gindin later wrote another piece criticizing recent bargaining concessions by the CAW at the
General Motorsplant in Oshawa, Ontario, which was published in the Socialist Projectbulletin on March 22. [cite web
title=Concessions in Oshawa: The End of an Era?
work=Socialist Project - the bullet
On May 22, 2006, auto parts workers at
A.G. Simpsonin Oshawa, Ontariowent on strike against their employer. Hargrove characterized the dispute as a "wildcat" (unauthorized) strike and criticized the workers involved, describing the situation as a "powder keg" that threatened other auto workers jobs. [cite web
title=Oshawa wildcat critical for GM
work=Toronto Star - Tony Van Alphen (May 24, 2006)
accessdate=2006-07-28] Hargrove's rival Lambert, however, fully supported the workers, joining the picket line and condemning Hargrove's conduct in an open letter. [cite web
title=Open Letter to Buzz Hargrove (pdf)
work=Willie Lambert (May 22, 2006)
accessdate=2006-07-28] The labour dispute was successfully resolved on May 25, 2006, although the workers involved remained critical of Hargrove and the National CAW's interventions. [cite web
title=AGS Workers Back on the Job
Durham Region News(May 25, 2006)
On June 22, 2006, the executive committee of CAW Local 1256, Lambert's home local, adopted a motion to reconsider its support for Lambert's campaign and lend support instead to Hargrove. Lambert alleges that the local executive took this action at the prompting of Hargrove's executive assistant,
Hemi Mitic, who allegedly threatened to dissolve Local 1256 and merge it into the larger CAW Local 707. Both Mitic and the local union president, James MacKenzie, deny this allegation. [cite web
title=Willie's local union under threat for supporting him (pdf)
work=Willie Lambert (July 31, 2006)
accessdate=2006-08-08] [cite web
title=CAW leadership candidate Willie Lambert speaks with Fightback
work=Fightback - Julian Benson (August 5, 2006)
accessdate=2006-08-08] The motion to reconsider support for Lambert was overwhelmingly defeated by the general membership of Local 1256 on July 9, 2006, confirming that Local 1256 continued to support Lambert. [cite web
title=Letter to supporters regarding defeat of motion to reconsider (pdf)
work=Willie Lambert (July 12, 2006)
The CAW's Constitutional Convention, at which the leadership election was scheduled to occur, took place Tuesday, August 15 through Friday, August 18 at the
Vancouver Convention & Exhibition Centre. [cite web
title=CAW Constitutional Convention in Vancouver, August 15 to 18 (press release)
accessdate=2006-08-17] Delegates were scheduled to vote for CAW executive officers on Thursday, August 17. However, on Wednesday, August 16, the union announced that Lambert had withdrawn his candidacy for CAW president, leaving Hargrove unopposed. [cite web
title= Challenger Withdraws From Race to Become CAW President (press release)
accessdate=2006-08-17] This was, however, a half-truth. According to standard union practice, candidates for CAW offices must be nominated before they can run. As Lambert was not himself a delegate, the decision on whether or not he was able to contest the presidency fell to the nearly 1000 elected delegates present. Since no one came forward -- not even delegates from his own local which had recently declared its unanimous support for his candidacy -- Lambert was effectively barred from contesting the leadership and Hargrove was therefore acclaimed for another term.
Basking in the glow of his "victory", Hargrove concluded his acceptance speech by proposing to his long-time girlfriend Denise Small. Small accepted. [cite web
title=Buzz pops the question
accessdate=2006-08-18] The two were subsequently married at a small, private ceremony in Toronto on December 22, 2007. [cite web
title= The buzz on Buzz
work=National Post - Shinan Govani, December 24, 2007
2007 Ontario election
In the 2007 Ontario provincial election the CAW as a union again endorsed strategic voting. Hargrove, however, again went further to slam both the NDP and its leader, Howard Hampton. He told the editorial board of the Toronto Star that the NDP had "lost complete touch" with the people of Ontario and that he saw "absolutely no reason to vote NDP." Hargrove then went on to lavish praise on the Ontario Liberals, claiming the party had been "more left than the NDP over the last four years" and predicting left-leaning voters would vote Liberal in the upcoming election. The Ontario Liberal Party ultimately won a second consecutive majority government.
Books and Films
* Buzz Hargrove is featured in the 1985
National Film Boarddocumentary "Final Offer" by Sturla Gunnarssonand Robert Collision. It follows the 1984 contract negotiations with General Motors that saw the CAW's birth, and split with the UAW.
* Buzz Hargrove is the author of the book "Labour of Love."
* [http://www.caw.ca/ Official site of the Canadian Auto Workers]
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