Sid Ryan

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Sid Ryan
Sidryan.jpg
Ryan speaking at a rally at Queen's Park in Toronto
President of the Ontario Federation of Labour
Assumed office
November 2009
Preceded by Wayne Samuelson
President of CUPE Ontario
In office
1992–2009
Personal details
Born 1952 (age 62–63)
Dublin, Ireland
Political party New Democratic Party

Patrick Cyril "Sid" Ryan (born 1952, in Dublin, Ireland) is president of the Ontario Federation of Labour and a longtime Canadian labour union leader and politician.

Biography[edit]

Born in Dublin, Republic of Ireland, and third eldest of ten children,[1] Ryan emigrated to Canada at age 23. He and his wife Sheila have three daughters: Lisa, Susie, and Amanda.

Ryan helped to organize a United Steelworkers of America (USWA) local where he worked shortly after arriving in Canada. He has been a Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) activist since he went to work for Ontario Hydro in 1976. He served as CUPE Ontario president from 1992 to 2009, representing 225,000 workers in the public sector. CUPE is the Canada's largest and fastest growing union with nearly 600,000 members. CUPE Ontario is the largest provincial division. Ryan also served as general vice-president of CUPE National until 2009.

Under Ryan’s leadership, CUPE Ontario focused on issues such as privatization, forced mergers, cutbacks, and restructuring. Ryan continues to lead major campaigns and proactively influence policy and legislative decisions in health care, municipal, school board, social service, and university sectors. He is a proponent of increasing the accessibility of university education across Ontario.

Ryan appears regularly on Michael Coren Live and CHEX-TV Durham, and writes a bi-weekly column for the Toronto Sun. He is also a frequent guest on TVOntario’s current affairs programs. He is a frequent speaker in the Canadian labour movement.

Ryan has been recruited by Human rights groups to act as a Canadian peace observer in Northern Ireland, to march alongside members of the United Farm Workers in California and to lobby Texas politicians for a commutation of Stanley Faulder's death sentence.

He has worked for the New Democratic Party during every election since arriving in Canada. He ran for the party provincially in 1999, 2003 and 2007, as well as federally in 2004 and 2006. He is the recipient of the Canada 125 Medal, presented to Canadian citizens for their contributions to the good of the community and society in general.[2]

In November 2009, Ryan was acclaimed to the position of president of the Ontario Federation of Labour.

Work with New Democratic Party[edit]

In addition to his union activities, Ryan has been involved with the New Democratic Party (NDP) since the 1980s. He has served on the Ontario NDP's provincial council and Environment committee, and is a former president of the Durham Centre riding association.

Ryan's affiliation with the Ontario NDP became tenuous in the early 1990s, when some felt that the party had moved to the right under Bob Rae's leadership. On one occasion, he referred to the Rae government's Social Contract bill as the most anti-labour piece of legislation he had ever seen. He has since re-aligned himself with the provincial party under Howard Hampton's largely unsuccessful leadership.

Ryan has stood as an NDP candidate in three provincial and two federal election campaigns, but has not to date won election to a legislative body. He contested Scarborough Centre in the 1999 provincial election, and finished third behind Progressive Conservative incumbent Marilyn Mushinski and Liberal Costas Manios. In the 2003 provincial election, he campaigned in Oshawa and came within 1,109 votes of defeating PC incumbent Jerry Ouellette. Ryan moved the NDP's vote from around 5000 to over 18,000 during the course of his campaigns in Oshawa.

Ryan also stood as a candidate for Oshawa in the 2004 federal election, and lost to Conservative Colin Carrie by 463 votes in a very close three-way race. He ran again in the 2006 election, but, despite considerable support from the federal NDP leader Jack Layton and CAW head Buzz Hargrove, lost by 2,802 votes to incumbent Carrie.

During the last few days of the 2006 election campaign, Alan Clarke, in a flyer reminding the Membership of CAW Local 222 that the Local was prohibited from supporting Ryan's campaign by a 1993 binding referendum, showed Ryan having a beer with Alex Maskey who was reportedly twice interned for being a member of the IRA. Maskey later became Lord Mayor of Belfast, a position appointed by Council. Carrie's campaign denied being involved, with manager Andrew Morin suggesting that the leaflet was a product of union squabbling over an endorsement by the Canadian Auto Workers. Morin and Ryan stated that the two campaigns were otherwise on good terms. Elections Canada laid two charges of breaching the Elections Act against Clarke, while Ryan also filed a civil suit. Clarke was later found innocent of the Elections Canada charges and filed a counter-suit against Ryan. Ryan alleged that Clarke was working on Carrie's 2006 campaign, which Morin had earlier denied.[3][4][5][6][7][8]

In the 2007 Ontario provincial election, Ryan challenged Ouellette for the second time, losing by over 2500 votes, a larger margin than in 2003.

OMERS and Bill 206[edit]

For more than 10 years Ryan waged a battle with the provincial government to change the governance of the OMERS pension plan. Ryan wanted the government to allow the stakeholders to have control over investments and day-to-day governance of the plan. Pension surpluses were not being used to raise pensions for some plan members.[9]

In 2006, Ryan threatened a political strike after Premier Dalton McGuinty brought in Bill 206, which would change the administration of OMERS but would not fully address CUPE's concerns. However, this met with resistance from a small number of CUPE locals. The employer organization AMO (Association of Municipalities Ontario), together with OMERS administrators fought, to stop Ryan's campaign. McGuinty agreed to make some changes to address CUPE's concerns but refused to withdraw the bill.[10] In September 2008, Ryan was appointed to the Board of Directors of OMERS. OMERS is the 4th largest pension plan in Canada with assets of around $50B.

Unbottle It Campaign[edit]

Tap Into Public Drinking Water[edit]

In early 2009, CUPE Ontario's Sid Ryan and The Council of Canadians' Maude Barlow teamed up in a 15 city tour of Ontario to promote public drinking water systems and to oppose the bottle water industry. Barlow had just been appointed a senior advisor on water to the President of the UN General Assembly. The ultimate goal of the campaign was to have the Ontario Government initiate a ban on the sale of bottled water in public buildings and facilities such as schools, universities, municipal buildings and hospitals.[11] The campaign was successful in getting London City Council to sponsor a resolution to the Federation of Canadian Municipalities (FCM) urging the FCM to call upon all municipalities to consider phasing out the sale and purchase of bottled water from their facilities.[12]

The tour saw great turnouts at stops in Windsor, London, Guelph, Hamilton, St. Catharines, Ottawa, Kingston, Midland, Waterloo, Owen Sound, Brockville, Cobourg, Whitby, Toronto, and Peterborough. “When we don’t care what happens to our water treatment plants, the same thing can happen with water as what happened to health care in the United States,”[13] said Ryan, in Midland.

Since the tour, Ontario saw full or partial bans in a number of communities. Niagara Falls voted to stop selling bottled water at city facilities, despite last-minute lobbying efforts from Nestle Waters Canada.

“When a city with the international profile of Niagara Falls recognizes this, and recognizes its responsibility to improve access to public water supplies, the days of bottled water are numbered across Canada and around the world,” said Barlow.[14]

With the first phase of the tour declared a huge success, CUPE Ontario added a Northern Ontario phase that spring. Unbottle it! planned to be in Sault Ste. Marie, Sudbury, Kenora, Thunder Bay and North Bay in April.[15]

Foreign policy[edit]

Israel[edit]

Ireland[edit]

Sid Ryan has a long-standing involvement with the Irish peace process, including acting as three-time International Peace Observer to the process between the Protestant Democratic Unionist Party and the Sinn Féin.

He has written a number of columns and pieces on the violence in his homeland, including an article in the Toronto Sun titled "The Orange, the Green ... and 'the troubles.'"[16]

During the 2004 federal election campaign, in which he ran as an NDP candidate, a Conservative Party member produced a leaflet featured a picture of Ryan standing beside Alec Maskey, former Lord Mayor of Belfast.[8] The leaflet was thought to imply that the photo was taken at a Friends of Sinn Féin fundraiser. In response, Ryan's campaign team released a press release emphasizing that the photo was taken at a fundraiser for the Ireland Fund of Canada, a non profit and non partisan charitable organization.[17]

In 2007, Sid Ryan introduced Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams on the Toronto stop of Adams' speaking tour of North America.[18] Adams was in Toronto to thank those that contributed to the peace process in Northern Ireland.

Ukraine[edit]

On March 17, 2014, Sid called Putin’s Crimean referendum under Russian occupation "democratic," and called the Ukrainian government “thugs, fascists and anti Semites."[19]

Awards[edit]

Sid Ryan was awarded the Canadian Arab Federation's Social Justice Award at their 40th anniversary dinner held in Toronto on June 16, 2007. Ryan was recognised for his work as an International Peace Observer in Northern Ireland and his championing of Palestinian rights, specifically, his strong support for CUPE Ontario's Resolution 50 which calls for union members to support the international campaign of boycott, diverstment and sanctions against Israel.[20]

References[edit]