Buzz Hargrove

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Basil Eldon "Buzz" Hargrove
Born March 8, 1944 (1944-03-08)
Bath, New Brunswick, Canada
Spouse(s) Denise Small
Children Corey, Karen, Kevin, Jaime and Laura

Basil Eldon "Buzz" Hargrove, OC (born March 8, 1944, Bath, New Brunswick, Canada) is the former National President of the Canadian Auto Workers trade union. He is currently serving as a Distinguished Visiting Professor at Ryerson University's Ted Rogers School of Management.[1]

Hargrove first became involved in the automotive sector as a line worker for the Chrysler assembly plant in Windsor, Ontario. He succeeded Bob White as 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 444 president 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 University honoured him with a Doctorate of Laws degree. He has received honorary doctorates from the University of Windsor in 2003, from Wilfrid Laurier University in 2004, from the University of New Brunswick in 2008,[2] and from Queen's University in 2009. In 2008, he was made an Officer of the Order of Canada.[3]

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 Party and lent increasing support instead for the Liberal Party of Canada.

Hargrove is married to Denise Small, a mediation officer for the Ontario Labour Relations Board.

1999 Ontario election[edit]

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 Rae NDP 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 the 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 but also 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 Hampton remained acrimonious.

Federal politics pre–2006[edit]

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 Comartin who 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 but gained only 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 Martin and Jack Layton together to negotiate a budget agreement 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 Harper and Bloc Québécois leader Gilles Duceppe to 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[edit]

Tactical voting[edit]

For the 2006 Canadian federal election, Hargrove resumed his previous endorsement of tactical voting and urged CAW members (and all voters) to vote for the candidate, NDP or Liberal had the best chance of defeating the Conservative candidate.[4] 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." [5] 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[edit]

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 2006 federal Liberal candidates Greig Mordue, a Toyota manager, and Belinda Stronach of Magna International; 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 Stronach and Donald Walker[citation needed] . In response, they carried anti-Hargrove placards at rallies and distributed buttons with the slogan: "Buzz Off. I'm voting NDP."[6]

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 Employees and 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.[6]

Controversy[edit]

On January 18, 2006, Hargrove made a widely criticized speech at a Liberal rally in Ontario where he urged voters in Quebec to vote for the Bloc Québécois in 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 Martin to 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.[7]

Hargrove also attacked the principles of Albertans, and Stephen Harper in particular (though Harper was actually born and raised in Toronto, Ontario, moving to Alberta only in his early twenties),[8][9] saying "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."

Results[edit]

Near the end of the 2006 campaign, sensing the momentum that would result in a Conservative victory, NDP leader Jack Layton defied 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 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.

Suspension from the NDP[edit]

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.[10] On February 23, 2006, Hargrove also confirmed that he would not appeal the Ontario NDP executive body's decision.[11]

Although Jack Layton and Sid Ryan did not support Hargrove's tactical voting, they opposed Hargrove's suspension from the NDP.[citation needed]

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.[12]

2006 CAW leadership race[edit]

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 Columbia in August, 2006.[citation needed] 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 was to be 62 years old at 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.[13] CAW Local 1256 chair and Oakville and District Labour Council President Willie Lambert was subsequently confirmed as an opposition candidate.[14] 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 Samuelson for the OFL presidency.[15]

On February 13, 2006, the CAW's former chief economist Sam Gindin raised 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.[16] Gindin later wrote another piece criticizing recent bargaining concessions by the CAW at the General Motors plant in Oshawa, Ontario, which was published in the Socialist Project bulletin on March 22.[17]

On May 22, 2006, auto parts workers at A.G. Simpson in Oshawa, Ontario went 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.[18] Hargrove's rival Lambert, however, fully supported the workers, joining the picket line and condemning Hargrove's conduct in an open letter.[19] The labour dispute was successfully resolved on May 25, 2006, although the workers involved remained critical of Hargrove and the National CAW's interventions.[20]

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.[21][22] 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.[23]

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.[24] 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.[25] 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, 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.[26] The two were subsequently married at a small, private ceremony in Toronto on December 22, 2007.[27]

Hargorve criticized the Ontario legislature when all three parties (Liberals, Progressive Conservatives, and NDP) passed emergency back-to-work legislation, after a wildcat strike by the Toronto Transit Commission union.[28]

2007 Ontario election[edit]

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[edit]

  • Buzz Hargrove is featured in the 1985 National Film Board documentary Final Offer by Sturla Gunnarsson and 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 books "Labour of Love" (1998) and "Laying It On The Line" (2009).

Currently[edit]

On February 27, 2009 Buzz Hargrove replaced Eric Lindros as the NHLPA ombudsman on an interim basis. He would later resign from the position on November 8, 2009.[29]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "The New Buzz in MBA Class". National Post. Retrieved 2009-07-15. [dead link]
  2. ^ "UNB TO CONFER HONORARY DEGREE UPON BASIL (BUZZ) HARGROVE". 
  3. ^ "Governor General Announces New Appointments to the Order of Canada". 
  4. ^ "Vote Liberal where NDP can't win: CAW boss". CBC. December 4, 2005. Retrieved 2014-05-22. 
  5. ^ "The NDP - Party Leader Biography". Canadian-Politics.com. Retrieved 2010-09-23. 
  6. ^ a b "How Hargrove upset labour, NDP". Toronto Star. Retrieved 2006-07-28. 
  7. ^ [1]
  8. ^ "Hargrove hits Harper as quasi-separatist". The Globe and Mail (Toronto). Retrieved 2006-07-28. [dead link]
  9. ^ "Hargrove out of touch and out to lunch". The Calgary Sun. Retrieved 2006-07-28. 
  10. ^ "NDP gives Buzz the boot". Toronto Star. Retrieved 2006-07-28. 
  11. ^ "Hargrove won't try to rejoin the NDP". Toronto Star. Retrieved 2006-07-28. 
  12. ^ "Auto workers union severs ties with NDP". Toronto Star - Terri Theodore. Retrieved 2006-08-19. 
  13. ^ "The Buzz fracture". Maclean's. Archived from the original on 2006-05-23. Retrieved 2006-07-28. 
  14. ^ "Hargrove faces challenge". Toronto Star. Retrieved 2006-07-28. 
  15. ^ "OFL delegates sound warning to leadership". New Labour Press. Retrieved 2006-07-28. 
  16. ^ "Raising difficult questions for the Left". rabble.ca. Archived from the original on 2006-02-23. Retrieved 2006-07-28. 
  17. ^ "Concessions in Oshawa: The End of an Era?". Socialist Project - the bullet. Retrieved 2006-07-28. 
  18. ^ "Oshawa wildcat critical for GM". Toronto Star - Tony Van Alphen (May 24, 2006). Retrieved 2006-07-28. 
  19. ^ "Open Letter to Buzz Hargrove (pdf)" (PDF). Willie Lambert (May 22, 2006). Retrieved 2006-07-28. 
  20. ^ "AGS Workers Back on the Job". Durham Region News (May 25, 2006). Retrieved 2006-07-28. [dead link]
  21. ^ "Willie's local union under threat for supporting him (pdf)" (PDF). Willie Lambert (July 31, 2006). Retrieved 2006-08-08. 
  22. ^ "CAW leadership candidate Willie Lambert speaks with Fightback". Fightback - Julian Benson (August 5, 2006). Retrieved 2006-08-08. 
  23. ^ "Letter to supporters regarding defeat of motion to reconsider (pdf)" (PDF). Willie Lambert (July 12, 2006). Retrieved 2006-08-08. 
  24. ^ "CAW Constitutional Convention in Vancouver, August 15 to 18 (press release)". CAW. Archived from the original on 2006-08-27. Retrieved 2006-08-17. 
  25. ^ "Challenger Withdraws From Race to Become CAW President (press release)". CAW. Retrieved 2006-08-17. 
  26. ^ "Buzz pops the question". Toronto Star. Retrieved 2006-08-18. 
  27. ^ "The buzz on Buzz". National Post - Shinan Govani, December 24, 2007. Retrieved 2008-01-04. 
  28. ^ [2]
  29. ^ Buzz Hargrove resigns as interim Ombudsman for NHLPA

External links[edit]

Preceded by
Bob White
National President of the CAW
1992-2008
Succeeded by
Ken Lewenza