On October 8th, 2010 the Canadian Union of Public Employees Local 503 hosted a mini conference on Public Private Partnerships (P3's) at the Sheraton Hotel in Ottawa. The event included breakfast and a few guest speakers who highlighted the significant data compiled worldwide, clearly detailing the negative consequences of P3's to communities in Canada and around the world.
Guests invited to the event included candidates in the upcoming city of Ottawa municipal election. Over 85 candidates registered to attend including several incumbents. Mayor Larry O'Brien and Mayor hopeful Jim Watson were also in attendance.
Some may suggest that private companies who profit from P3's have been better communicators in pushing forward their projects to a particular city council. Others may suggest that Labour has been somewhat ineffective in communicating the mountains and mountains of data gathered. Still others may suggest that many city councillors who oppose P3's in principal adopt projects because they feel there is no alternative to providing a specific recreation centre, library or other public project for residents.
The CUPE 503 P3 mini conference was an incredibly effective communication vehicle rolled out with precision. The bulk of those attending were new to the political arena and as aspiring councillors and mayors any information on city wide issues is absorbed like a sponge. P3's have never been about ideals or the planks of a political party but rather about orgainzed labour and others attempting to convey to the naiive that a P3 benefits only the private company where profit is the priority and any benefit to a community becomes secondary or is nonexistent. All of this supported with fact.
Like many of Labour's concerns - we're not wrong when it comes to P3's. CUPE 503 showed us an effective way to message.