On September 6, over one hundred people rallied to mark Labour Day in Toronto at Christie Pits Park. Chair of the event, Elizabeth Byce, welcomed them with these words: “The real Workers’ Day, International Workers’ Day is on May First, but we intend to seize this occasion to advance a Workers’ Agenda. Labour makes the country run. Labour should run the country. In the midst of the current federal election campaign, we urge a critical vote for the only mass labour party in North America, the New Democratic Party. At the same time we strive for a Workers’ Government to expropriate Capital and establish a cooperative commonwealth, in harmony with nature.”
The rally, held on the unceded Indigenous territory of the Mississaugas of the New Credit, the Wendot, and the Hau-den-o-shon-i people, was sponsored by Socialist Action. It was endorsed by the Canadian Union of Postal Workers – Toronto Local, the Ontario Public Service Employees’ Union – Toronto Region, the Ontario Coalition Against Poverty, ACORN (Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now), Greenspiration, Queer Ontario, the Louis Riel Bolivarian Circle, Frente Hugo Chavez, Greater Toronto for BDS, the Canadian BDS Coalition and many of its affiliates, the Canadian Network on Cuba, POOF, the NDP Socialist Caucus and the Workers’ Action Movement.
After soprano Emily Steers sang the great labour anthem “Solidarity Forever”, the crowd heard Angela Bischoff from Greenspiration, Alex Badila singing his composition “General Strike”, Kurt Young, Peel Region organizer and leading member of Socialist Action, Barry Conway who is a member of CUPE Local 5167, the Industrial Workers of the World, and a Vice President of the Hamilton & District Labour Council, music by the fabulous duo HOTCHA!, Julius Arscott, an Executive Board Member of the Ontario Public Service Employees’ Union, Euridice Baumgarten, a tenants’ rights activist and Ontario steering committee member of the NDP Socialist Caucus, Julio Fonseca of the Canadian Network on Cuba, Isabella Gamk, Organizer of POOF Protecting ODSP OW Funding, and Suzanne Weiss on behalf of the Greater Toronto for Boycott Divestment and Sanctions coalition. In the middle of the program Emily Steers sang ‘Union Maid’, and at the conclusion ‘The Internationale’. A sudden rain shower interrupted the proceedings for only a few minutes. It didn’t dampen the clapping, chanting, singalong afternoon. Literature sales and a raffle for a bottle of Cuban rum generated considerable interest. “Cuba, Si! Bloqueo, No!”
Kurt Young underscored the central message of the rally’s sponsor: “Socialist Action is committed to grassroots democracy and the united front in action. You can see it in the NDP Socialist Caucus, in the Workers’ Action Movement, in campaigns of solidarity with Venezuela and Cuba, and in the fight against Thug Ford. SA initiated the cross-country Day of Action for Palestinian rights in May 2019, plus the online Day of Action, to demand Break the Siege of Gaza and No Annexation of the West Bank in May 2020 and 2021. We celebrate the defeat of the imperialist powers in Afghanistan. We don’t support the Taliban. The U.S. created the Taliban to fight Russia and a previous progressive secular Afghan government. The U.S./NATO retreat will enable the Afghan working class to reconstitute a left opposition. It will enable them to fight for a Workers’ Government. This is the third defeat for Washington: first Korea, then Vietnam, now Afghanistan. This shows that the world’s ruling rich cannot invade and plunder every country they want. The Cuban Revolution showed that workers and farmers can seize power in our own name, spread solidarity around the world, and leave no worker without good housing, education and health care. Can the corporate elite turn the clock back? Conservatives in the USA and Canada are trying to deprive women of the Right to Choose on Abortion. We say to hell with that, they’re never going back! A woman’s right to choose is here to stay! The ruling rich aim to reverse the concessions made to workers during the current pandemic. We say to hell with that, we refuse to go back! We demand permanent pay increases, safe working conditions, and public ownership of all Long-Term Care facilities. We say nationalize Big Oil, Big Gas, the giant Telecoms and the major Banks.
“We demand: Disarm, De-fund, Disband the Police, Free Public Transit, Tax the Rich, Free Post-Secondary Education, Fund human needs – not war production or the military, Hands Off Venezuela, Lift the siege of Gaza. Tear down the Apartheid wall! Viva-Viva Palestina, Raise the minimum wage to $20/hour, for Good Jobs and a Living Income for All, for an Eco-socialist Green New Deal, Rent Freeze Now, No COVID Evictions, Nationalize the big landlords, and Provide Quality Housing and Childcare for all who need it.”None of these demands can be won and secured without a Workers’ Government. An NDP government would be a small step forward. To that end, I urge you to vote for the NDP in the federal election on September 20. But to lead the fight for a real Workers’ Government we need a Revolutionary Workers’ Party. We need a party that will lead the fight for human liberation, a party that will smash racism, sexism and homophobia, a party that will work every day to replace chaotic, toxic capitalist rule with a democratically planned economy in harmony with nature. If you want to change the world, now is the time to get directly involved. We warmly invite you to join Socialist Action. Happy Labour Day! Workers to power!”