May Day 2022 — Reds and Labour Take to the Streets En Masse in Toronto

May Day 2022 represented the first mass mobilization of labour and reds in Ontario in decades. It was the socialist left that kept the flame of May Day alive through decades of neoliberal attacks. For socialists, perseverance is key because we know that capitalism and its need for infinite economic growth will continue to create crisis after crisis.  It drives workers and oppressed people towards other ways of seeing the world, other ways of organizing.

On Sunday, May 1, 2022 Socialist Action spokesperson Daniel Tarade addressed hundreds of workers and allies at Toronto City Hall Square. J.P. Hornick, the newly elected president of OPSEU/SEFPO, along with representatives of the Canadian Union of Postal Workers, the Toronto and York Region Labour Council, the Canadian Union of Public Employees, an Indigenous activist and several socialist organizations also took the microphone. 

SA leading member Elizabeth Byce co-chaired the Toronto gathering with Sarah of the Communist Workers’ Circle. Intermittent rain did not dampen the spirit of the crowd which marched up University Avenue and joined a May Day rally hosted by the Ontario Federation of Labour at Queen’s Park, in front of the Ontario Legislature. 

Leading up to May Day, Socialist Action also hosted an online celebration. You can watch that video above and read the speech given by Federal Secretary Barry Weisleder below.

For the first time in decades, major labour bodies and leftists united in action to celebrate International Workers’ Day in Toronto. They re-affirmed the inseparable bonds between solidarity, internationalism and the struggle for socialism, as millions of workers took to the streets around the world.

Speech Given by Barry Weisleder for May Day 2022:

Good evening, comrades, siblings and friends.  International Workers’ Day, unlike Labour Day in September, is the occasion to celebrate not only workers’ solidarity and our past gains, but the struggle for socialism.  May Day is rooted in the quest for a world without exploitation and oppression. Socialist Action has been at the forefront of May First actions for decades.  Clearly, on May Day 2022, despite big challenges, there are positive signs.  Young workers are organizing unions.  Witness the breakthrough at Amazon in the US.  Witness the successful unionization drives at West Jet, Indigo bookstores, Canada Goose in Winnipeg, various Starbucks locations, at a Vancouver hotel, and a near-win at Staples in Oakville.  Celebrate the election of a new progressive president of the Ontario Public Service Employees’ Union, and the triumph of Teamsters for a Democratic Union across North America.  Note the significant support for Workers’ Action Movement candidates at recent CLC and OFL conventions, and the re-election of revolutionary socialists to leading positions in OPSEU and the Public Service Alliance.  The so-called Great Resignation shows that young workers are fed up with low-wage, insecure jobs, and they’re fighting back.

But there is no denying the fact that these are tough times.

Inter-imperialist rivalry dominates the headlines.  The conflict in Ukraine, triggered by the expansion of NATO to the borders of Russia, threatens nuclear war.  Russia’s brutal and horrendous invasion has strengthened rightist forces in Ukraine and beyond. Anti-war protests, still relatively small, struggle to highlight the crimes of Washington, London, Paris, Ottawa and their imperialist allies.  We stand with anti-war activists in Russia and in the west.

The U.S.-led Cold War against China, a sign of declining American economic hegemony, can easily grow into a hot war with catastrophic consequences for humanity.  First and foremost, we oppose the war moves of our own ruling class.  The answer is not so-called Multipolarity and identification with opposing authoritarian regimes.  The answer is workers’ revolutionary self-organization, from the bottom up, for world socialist transformation.

Rapid global warming caused by fossil-fueled capitalism, puts all life on Earth at risk.  The world faces multiple unavoidable climate hazards over the next two decades with global warming of 1.5°C.  Risks for society will increase, including to infrastructure and low-lying coastal settlements. Increased heatwaves, droughts and floods already exceed the tolerance of plants and animals, driving mass mortalities in species such as trees and corals. Weather extremes are occurring simultaneously, causing cascading impacts that are increasingly difficult to manage. They expose millions of people to acute food and water insecurity, especially in Africa, Asia, Central and South America, on Small Islands, and in the Arctic.

The pandemic arising from de-forestation and the expansion of agribusiness, is not disappearing.  Coronavirus cases are over 450 million; deaths over 6 million.  Less than 20 per cent of the peoples of the less developed countries are vaccinated even once, let alone three times.  Patent protection ensures mega profits for Big Pharma, and future waves of fatal Covid variants.  In Ontario’s 14 largest hospital systems over 2,900 health care workers are currently off sick due to COVID, resulting in surgery cancellations or delays and reduced emergency department hours.

The brutal 40-year policy of neo-liberalism continues, ramping up again in the west following a short Covid pause.  Price inflation is surging at a 31-year high.  Workers and peasants, the world over, are being impoverished to the point of severe sickness, starvation and death, while billionaires are becoming trillionaires.  Restrictions on travel and indoor gatherings are being lifted, in some cases too rapidly, even recklessly. Excess mortality during 2020 and 2021 stands at 18 million, suggesting an even larger impact on societal health.

By prioritizing profit over people, big business governments risk pandemic regression.

Debt, waste, and inequality put the world on course for a Great Recession in 2019.  The pandemic made things much worse, plunging humanity into a global Depression.  Bourgeois politicians claim to care — while they buy oil pipelines, trample Indigenous people, and sell weapons of mass destruction.  Inequality surges.  Haters stoke fears.  Racism, sexism and homophobia rise.  They promote authoritarian rule, and wage wars of imperialist plunder.  Human civilization is at risk.  The choice is Socialism or Barbarism.  If we are to survive, revolutionary change is urgent.  Vital to the change we need is international working class solidarity.

Capitalism is approaching a terminus. It is dragging life on Earth down with it.  Either we defeat it, or die.  That is the choice. The stakes have never been higher.

Today we stand in solidarity with the Palestinian people, for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions against the Zionist apartheid state, and with Cuba, Venezuela, Syria and Iran against imperialist intervention.  We condemn the criminal blockade imposed by Ottawa, Washington and the E.U. who target countries for regime change because they stand in the way of imperial super-profits.

More than ever it is clear that capitalism is a dying system that threatens to destroy nature and humanity.  The capitalist rulers cut funding to public health services and medical research.  They failed to provide protective gear and paid extensive sick leave.  They limit brave personal care workers to part-time hours, low wages, and no benefits.  They close borders to starving millions displaced by war and climate change.  This is mass murder, rooted in capitalism.

There is an alternative to this genocidal system – a rational, democratic, humanistic and cooperative alternative:  Socialism.  But a major obstacle to socialism is the conservative, bureaucratic leadership of the unions and the NDP.  The labour fakers must be replaced by class struggle militants.  Socialist Action is at the forefront of the Workers’ Action Movement and the Socialist Caucus which won the NDP to the fight for a $20/hour minimum wage.  WAM says: Stop concessions bargaining. No to two-tier wages/benefits.  Hands off our pensions.  Mass job action to end austerity.  Make the rich pay for the pandemic.  Smash racism, sexism and homophobia in the work place and in the unions.  De-fund the police.

We demand that Jagmeet Singh and the NDP break with the minority federal Liberal government.  The Liberal-NDP pact means Singh will vote for increases in war spending and war profits.  He will back wars in which working class families die or become refugees.  Singh’s commitment to provide the Liberals with “confidence and supply” implies endorsement for beefing up the Canadian Forces to participate in NATO wars, as it did in Afghanistan, the Balkans and Libya.  It involves backing the NATO puppet regime in Kyiv; providing lethal aid to Nazi battalions battering the Donbas; shipping weapons to the Saudi monarchy pulverizing Yemen; and boosting the Israeli Apartheid state.  It means backing any moves by Trudeau to complete the TMX pipeline, and to continue under-funding health care and ignoring the needs of Indigenous people.

We say: Organize the unorganized.  No to union raiding.  For international working class action against trade wars, hot wars, repression and military occupation.  For union democracy.  Pay union officials a worker’s wage.

To achieve socialism, we advance transitional demands to increase the confidence and capacity of the working class to achieve gains, to win power.

Socialist Action demands Basic Income for all, regardless immigration status.  Nationalize Big Pharma and all private Long-Term Care facilities.

Put a moratorium on residential rents and mortgage payments.  No evictions.  Cancel student debt.  Make education free.  Expropriate the big landlords.  Build quality, accessible social housing on a mass scale.  Nationalize the telecoms!

Tax the rich.  Expropriate the big banks, the giant oil and gas corporations.  Move rapidly to green, sustainable energy, under public ownership and workers’ control.

The present mode of production is capitalism for the poor, and socialism for the rich.  It must be replaced by a cooperative commonwealth, a genuine economic democracy.  But the rich and powerful will resist tooth and nail.  Only a socialist revolution, led by a mass revolutionary workers’ party, deeply rooted in the majority class, can overcome the power of the elite.  Only in that way can we unleash the full potential of humanity, in harmony with nature.

No individual or party can accomplish this task alone.  That is why Socialist Action is committed to the tactic of the united front.  Broad unity in action, on a specific set of demands, magnifies the power of the grassroots.  For that reason, Socialist Action helped to initiate the Municipal Socialist Alliance in Toronto and Peel, and Vote Socialist Vancouver.  We eagerly participate in united front campaigns such as those of the Canadian BDS Coalition, the Canada Peace Network, the Canadian Network on Cuba, plus anti-poverty, anti-fascist, pro-feminist, pro-choice, pro-queer, pro-Indigenous actions.

Today we are showing the bosses that there is no retreat. The working class will continue the struggle for socialism, for freedom from all forms of oppression, for peace, social justice, equality, and workers’ power.  We invite you to join Socialist Action Workers’ Day rallies and marches on Sunday, May 1 in Toronto and across the country.  We warmly invite you to join Socialist Action.  Have a bright, red May Day!  Long live international workers’ solidarity!  Long live the world socialist revolution!