USW Pays Tribute to Great Steelworker, New Democrat Yvon Godin

"I always felt that's why I was there – to speak out for those working people," Acadie–Bathurst MP says of 18-year career in federal politics.

TORONTO, June 5, 2015 /CNW/ - The United Steelworkers (USW) is paying tribute to the remarkable career of Acadie–Bathurst MP Yvon Godin.

Godin, a proud Steelworker and champion of working people across Canada, has officially said goodbye to the House of Commons and his constituents after 18 years as a New Democratic MP.

"It's a privilege to pay tribute to a great Steelworker and social democrat who devoted his entire career to defending the interests of ordinary working people in his community and across Canada," said USW National Director Ken Neumann.

"Yvon Godin is a true champion for working families," said Marty Warren, USW Director for Ontario and Atlantic Canada. "He has been one of our country's strongest and most effective critics of government austerity and damaging cuts to vital services and programs, most notably the pillaging of the employment insurance system."

Godin, elected in six consecutive landslide victories beginning in 1997, announced earlier this year he would not run in the next federal election. On Wednesday, he rose in the House to say farewell.

"It has been an honour for me to represent the people of Acadie–Bathurst and defend the interests of Canadians across the country in the House of Commons these past 18 years," he said.

"It is not easy to leave this House. I have experienced great moments and felt a lot of emotions in this place, but … there is a time to begin and a time to leave."

Godin joined the Steelworkers as a young man, while working as a miner in Bathurst, N.B. He became a USW activist to push for greater health and safety protections for his fellow miners.

"When I started working in the mine as a young person, we had problems with health and safety and that's how I got involved with the union," he recalled. "I knew that's what we had to do, to make change."

Godin's committed activism on behalf of his co-workers propelled him through the union ranks and he was elected President of USW Local 5385, representing nearly 2,500 members at the Brunswick Mine. His skills were later recognized with his hiring as a USW Staff Representative, a job he kept until he entered federal politics in 1997.

As a New Democratic MP, Godin earned a reputation as a passionate orator and a powerful voice for working people and for social and economic justice. That passion also was on display on the numerous occasions in which he addressed USW national and international conferences and conventions.

Godin said he carried his Steelworker values and principles with him throughout his political career.

"I brought my union experience to my job as an MP," he said. "So often I saw the government acting only for big corporations and not for the men and women who get up every day and do the work to build this country.

"I always felt that's why I was there – to speak out for those working people."

"After so many years of tireless public service, Yvon has earned a long and happy retirement and we wish him well," Neumann said.

SOURCE United Steelworkers (USW)

For further information: Ken Neumann, USW National Director, 416-544-5951; Marty Warren, USW District 6 Director, 416-243-8792; Bob Gallagher, USW Communications, 416-544-5966, 416-434-2221, bgallagher@usw.ca

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