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Socialist Action | Looking back at 2022, and Going Forward in Struggle

by Barry Weisleder, Federal Secretary, Socialist Action Canada / Ligue pour l’Action socialiste in the Canadian state, who spoke at the Toronto Region Socialist Action Canada Pre-Holiday Social on December 3, 2022.

Good evening, comrades and friends.  Isn’t it great to be meeting again in this building (the OPSEU regional office in downtown Toronto) after nearly three years?

Socialist Action Canada is a growing revolutionary workers’ party that puts a great emphasis on political education.  At the same time, SA is an activist organization.  It has many practical accomplishments to its credit, including achievements in local elections, in building a fighting left wing inside mass working class organizations, and in promoting international solidarity.  From Iran to Haiti, from Britain to Ontario, 2022 has been a year of revolt against austerity, authoritarianism, and repression.

Recent weeks have not been very good for Doug Ford and his Ontario Conservative government.  Forced by mass demonstrations and the threat of a general strike, Ford rescinded anti-labour Bill 28.  And just days ago, the Ontario Superior Court ruled that Ford’s 4-year, 1% wage cap, the infamous Bill 124 is unconstitutional and void.  Of course, the Tories are appealing the decision, to drag this process out further, instead of paying the $8 billion that they will have to pay.  Given other wretched laws in the works, like Bill 23 (which destroys green belt and farmland) and Bill 7 (which forces seniors into inferior, deadly Long Term Care), the lesson for labour and the oppressed is that this government will persist until it is removed.  Isn’t it about time to remove it with a general strike?  If CUPE education workers vote No to the deal that CUPE Ontario leaders say is inadequate, the removal of Ford and Co. may occur sooner than later.  Stay tuned.

In the meantime, with hospitals at the breaking point, food banks unable to cope, the house-less more numerous and desperate than ever, and on the eve of a harsh recession induced to curb hyper-inflation, guess what the Royal Bank is doing.  The RBC, led by CEO and climate criminal Dave McKay, is spending $13.5 billion cash to buy HSBC Bank Canada.  It is the largest domestic banking deal ever.  Earlier, TD Bank bought First Horizon, and BMO purchased Bank of the West.  So, now you know what RBC, TD and BMO were doing while the rest of us hunkered down to survive COVID and pay our bills.  Is there a better argument than this for nationalization of the big banks under workers’ control?

Well, SA has not bought any banks, but we have been busy otherwise.  The following is a chronology of some of the activities of Socialist Action Canada, primarily in the Toronto region, during the past 12 months.

In January 2022, SA resumed its efforts to plan a big May Day celebration, launched its annual Fund Appeal, reconvened several internal committees, including its Editorial Team and its Design Group, and pushed the city election campaign forward.

At the February 4 to 6 Ontario NDP convention, we fought for socialist policies and ran several candidates for ONDP Executive.  They received a significant vote.

On March 5, SA participated in a Rally Against the Far-Right, held at Christie Park.

On March 6, SA joined an Action for Peace in Ukraine, starting at OISE U of T, demanding Canada Out of NATO.

On March 8, SA hosted a Webcast to celebrate International Women’s Day.

March 12 was a Day of Action for a Green Transition.  We joined the rally outside Chrystia Freeland’s office.

OPSEU Region 5 held elections at the Sheraton Centre on March 19, and Julius Arscott was re-elected to the union’s Executive Board.

On March 20, we marched for Migrant Workers’ Rights and against Racism, setting out from City Hall.

On March 24, an SA webcast celebrated the Life of Robbie Mahood, one of our founding members.

March 29 was the occasion for an SA pub nite at the Pour Boy on Manning Ave.

On April 2 we joined hundreds to mark Land Day for Palestine at Dundas Square.

OPSEU held its annual convention at the Metro Convention Centre, April 6-9.

On April 7, at 11 a.m. a Wet’suwet’en protest took place at the RBC on Wellington St.  At 7 p.m. SA webcast a panel discussion titled “Is COVID Really Over?”

On April 13 ACORN held a Disability Rights Day rally at 111 Wellesley St. E.

April 21 SA webcasts featured “New Fighter Jets, NATO and the War in Ukraine”.

April 24 Municipal Socialist Alliance met in the first of a series of zoom conventions to expand its policy platform.

On Sunday, May 1, SA gathered with hundreds at City Hall Square to celebrate International Workers’ Day.  Elizabeth Byce co-chaired the rally.  Daniel Tarade spoke for SA.  The new OPSEU president, and other parties, addressed the crowd.  Then everyone marched to Queen’s Park for the first May Day event hosted by the Ontario Federation of Labour in decades.

Stop the War in Ukraine was the theme of a rally on May 7 at Spadina and Bloor where SA called on Ottawa and NATO to ‘Negotiate, Don’t Escalate.’

SA joined the Rally for Climate Justice at Queen’s Park on May 14, and the Nakba 74 Palestine protest at Dundas Square on May 15.

The first of several SA and MSA picnics at Christie Park took place on May 29.

The SA Spring Education Conference convened on June 4, followed by the SA Convention on June 12.  The latter is where members vote on party policies and leadership.

Peel SA members joined a June 9 protest in Brampton to demand that wages owed to migrant workers be paid.

The Latin American community celebrated the birthdays of Simon Bolivar and Hugo Chavez, July 23 at Trinity-Bellwoods Park.  Julius spoke for SA.

On July 29 SA joined a protest at King and Bay against banks that fund massively destructive fossil fuels.

On August 1, we blocked the intersection of Bloor and Bedford to protest low ODSP rates.

At the opening of the CNE, August 19, SA picketed with safety inspectors on strike, members of OPSEU Local 546.  Several MSA candidates registered at City Hall.

The annual SA Summer Social took place on September 3 at the Bain Co-op Community Centre.

SA, WAM and the Socialist Caucus marched in the annual Toronto Labour Day Parade, September 5, with 25,000 members of labour unions.

A new series of SA webcasts began on September 22 with “Capitalism and the Environment on the Eve of COP 27.”  The next day we joined the Global Climate Strike at Queen’s Park where the SA canopy attracted many.

On October 7, SA supported a protest organized by students against sexual assault at U of Toronto.

MSA did a mass leafleting outside Broadview Station to demand Free Public Transit! on October 11.  On October 16 we rallied to demand Status for All Migrant Workers.  On October 21, Tamara Lorincz and I disrupted a forum with Defense Minister Anita Anand at MTU, followed by an anti-war rally on October 23 at Spadina and Bloor, a climate injustice award to RBC on October 27, and a rally at the U.S. Consulate on October 30 to demand an end to the U.S. embargo of Cuba.

A rising wave of solidarity with CUPE Ontario education workers began on November 4, 5 and 7, followed by defiance of Thug Ford’s Bill 28.  Ford was forced to rescind the anti-labour law, which incorporated use of the ‘notwithstanding clause’ to override the Charter of Rights. Sadly, employees returned to work without a good settlement on wages and staffing.  Will they vote NO, and revive the struggle to Dump Thug Ford?  Stay tuned.

In October, MSA candidates received nearly 15,000 votes across Ontario.  Three of them placed second.  Vote Socialist candidates in Vancouver scored more than 49,000.  The MSA proclaimed a Shadow Council to continue the fight for a Workers’ Agenda at City Hall.

What is in store for the year ahead?

More struggles against capitalist austerity, more battles against imperialist war, more efforts to stop environmental plunder!  In fact, we are more determined than ever to overcome the conservative labour leadership and social democratic obstacles to a militant workers’ agenda.

WAM plans to build chapters in many more unions, and to run candidates for the top positions in the Canadian Labour Congress at its convention in Montreal in May.  At the next federal NDP convention, in October in Hamilton, we will be there to fight for socialist policies and to hold the leadership accountable for its undemocratic practices.

But whatever we decide to do, one thing is crystal clear.  No one can do everything that needs to be done.  No one can be everywhere to advance the struggle for social justice in a world that is choking on pollution, war, and economic misery.

And we also know this:  Together, in Socialist Action Canada, we can have an impact, we can make a difference, collectively.

Together, we can have a greater effect than any one individual can.  And in the process, we resolve to build the revolutionary workers’ party which is indispensable to leading the working class to victory, to make a better world, a world truly fit for humanity.  What better New Year’s resolution can there be than that?