by Christian Whittall
The Free Times Cafe was packed to the gills on the evening of Saturday, May 1, for Toronto’s 24th Annual Socialist May Day Celebration. The lively, convivial atmosphere may have seemed in sharp contrast to the rather dire-sounding theme for this year: “Eco-Socialism or Extinction”. But what was really on display was great hope and excitement for the first of these two alternatives.
Jorge Soberon, Cuba’s consul general in Toronto spoke about challenges facing his country and its militant resolve in the face of them. He deflated the wishful thinking of Cuba’s enemies that the revolution would die with Fidel, citing the vast resource represented by the country’s young generation.
The Venezuela consul general in Toronto, Mirna Quero de Peña, sent a written statement that was read aloud by emcee Elizabeth Byce. De Peña emphasized that the environmental crisis we are facing is an economic rather than a technological one.
B.C. Holmes of the Toronto Haiti Action Committee talked about her visit to the subsequently earthquake-ravaged nation on the anniversary of its independence, Jan. 1 of this year. “Haiti needs solidarity, not charity,” she insisted. Vice president of the Canadian Arab Federation Ali Mallah spoke next, also giving voice to revolutionary sentiments overseas, especially in the Middle East.
With a more local perspective, Ontario Coalition Against Poverty member Leslie Wood celebrated the noisy optimism and numerical strength of the No One Is Illegal march held earlier that day (with several hundred participants)—defiant in the face of the province’s inhumane cut to welfare spending in the middle of a recession.
Finally, Socialist Action Federal Secretary Barry Weisleder drew all these threads together in a “State of the Revolution” address. The evening was rounded out by a line-up of performers, leaving the crowd infused with rebellion and hope.