On the first sunny long weekend in May, over sixty people gathered at the University of Toronto to say No to the global capitalist agenda of austerity and environmental plunder. The occasion was the ninth annual Socialist Action / Ligue pour l’Action socialiste international educational conference. Like the three previous such gatherings, this one was co-sponsored by the Socialist Unity League (LUS) of Mexico and Socialist Action-USA.
Under the theme “Their Crisis, Our Solutions”, speakers from Quebec, English Canada, the aboriginal rights movement, Mexico and the United States addressed the big issues facing humanity on a world scale. They hailed the democratic uprisings across North Africa to the Persian Gulf, embodied in the Great Arab Awakening that continues to shake the rule of Washington and its NATO allies.
Speakers reported on the fight to defend civil liberties, which are under attack by politicians looking for racial scapegoats in the midst of economic crisis. They told how we can achieve climate justice in the face of corporate power and greed.
Union activists Ajamu Nangwaya, Bruce Allen and this writer exposed what’s wrong with the labour movement. I stressed the opportunity to take advantage of the NDP breakthrough on May 2 to build a class struggle left wing to chart a new course for labour. Presenters explained the origins of sexism, the need for an independent women’s liberation movement today, and articulated socialist solutions for the ongoing global ‘Great Recession’. Outstanding talks (which we hope to publish) by SA-USA leaders Jeff Mackler, Christine Gauvreau and Dan Piper, on the world economy, feminism and ecological issues, received high praise.
Two talks by LUS-Mexico leader Jaime Gonzalez were a high-tech highlight of the conference. He addressed the gathering live, via the inter net communications tool Webex. On Friday night Gonzalez talked about the so-called ‘crime war’ in Mexico, and on Saturday morning about global warming and pollution issues after the 2010 Cancun climate conference, including the still unfolding Japanese nuclear meltdown disaster.
The Sunday morning session on “Aboriginal and Quebecois aspirations – National liberation in the Canadian state”, featuring Roger Obonsawin, President of the Aboriginal Peoples’ Council of Toronto, SA/LAS leader Robbie Mahood, and Marc Bonhomme of Quebec Solidaire, prompted participants to reflect on the results of the May 2 federal election. The NDP breakthrough in Quebec and the election of prominent native leaders there may facilitate a new unity of workers and oppressed nations that can stop the Harper Conservative agenda through mass action in the Parliament of the streets.
Brisk sales at the SA literature display netted $140 for books and pamphlets. SA newspaper gained four year-long subscriptions. Folks snapped up over $130 in raffle tickets. Two lucky participants each won a bottle of Cuban rum donated by the Cuban Consulate in Toronto.
Thanks to videographer Daniel Libby, co-producer of the reknowned film “Toronto G20 Exposed”, the proceedings of three conference sessions will be posted on the inter net.
Proceedings ended with everyone rising to their feet to sing a rousing rendition of “The Internationale”.
Following the conclusion of the public conference, SA/LAS convened its annual federal convention. It voted to welcome new members in Montreal and Toronto, a new supporter in Toronto, and adopted a plan of action for the year ahead. Immediate tasks centre on the fight for socialist policies, and to promote Quebec and aboriginal rights at the June 17-19 NDP federal convention in Vancouver.
A sign of great things to come was the formal launch of Youth for Socialist Action, headed by youth members of SA/LAS. The new youth group adopted a constitution and a 10 point platform. It will publish a handbook and establish campus clubs at Ryerson U and other schools. The foundation of the YSA capped a wonderful weekend of education, political decision-making, friendly socializing over food and drinks, and a broadening of personal horizons. With all of that comes a renewed and enhanced resolve to create a better world.
The article above was written by Barry Weisleder.