Hundreds braved persistent cool showers to celebrate International Workers’ Day at the south-west corner of Toronto’s City Hall Square on Sunday, April 30.
Hosted by the Labour May Day Committee, a coalition of dozens of unions, leftist parties and international solidarity campaigns, featured speakers from the Ontario Federation of Labour, Amalgamated Transit Union Local 113, the Ontario Public Service Employees’ Union, the Indigenous liberation cause, the Naujawan Support Network, the Palestine Youth Movement, the Communist Workers’ Circle and Socialist Action. The CUPE Choir sang The Internationale.
Introduced by rally co-chair Elizabeth Byce, speakers for the largest political contingentwere Socialist Action federal secretary Barry Weisleder, and the Municipal Socialist Alliance candidate for Toronto mayor Kiri Vadivelu.Here is the text of their remarks, respectively, to the assembled crowd:
May Day is no picnic. It is a fiery revolt against a dying system. It is a bold act of rebellion against minority class rule. It is an affirmation of the destiny of the working class to build socialism on the ashes of the old order.
To those cynics who say revolutionary change is impossible, I say: Have you forgotten 1917? Have you forgotten 1949, forgotten Vietnam, forgotten revolutionary Cuba? From the Paris Commune of 1871 to the resistance against Macron’s bid to raise the age of retirement, there is a revolutionary continuity. This International Workers’ Day we applaud one of the biggest strikes in decades here. The Public Service Alliance says “Enough is enough, we will not pay for the inflation we did not create.” They are fighting for us all. Victory to the PSAC!
Indigenous people say there can be no reconciliation without restitution. Women say there is no going back to back-street abortionists. Queer people will not return to the closet. Opponents of the inter-imperialist war in Ukraine say abolish NATO, defend the right of the Donbass people to self-determination, halt the Russian bombardment of western Ukraine. Negotiate peace. Don’t Escalate the war into a terminal nuclear nightmare.
To the NDP top brass we say: Stop propping up the minority Liberal government. Stop voting for war budgets. End subsidies to the nature-killing oil and gas industry. Nationalize the resource sector under workers’ and Indigenous control. Stand in solidarity with the Palestinian people, for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions against the Zionist apartheid state. Stand with Cuba, Venezuela, Syria and Iran against imperialist intervention. China is not the enemy. Build homes, not drones.
Cooperation on the left has never been easy. But if ever there was a time for collaboration against threats to human survival, the time is now! To beat back the right wing, to save our water, air, and soil, to stem the tide of authoritarian regression, we must work together. Socialist Action advocates the united front. In the unions the Workers’ Action Movement demands: Organize the unorganized. No to union raiding. For international working class action against trade wars, cold and hot wars, repression, and military occupation. Fight for union democracy. Pay union officials a worker’s wage.
The NDP Socialist Caucus unites the left inside the only mass labour party in North America and demands public ownership. SA advances transitional demands to increase the confidence and capacity of the working class to achieve gains, ultimately to win power. The Municipal Socialist Alliance, and Vote Socialist Vancouver, call for a moratorium on residential rents and mortgage payments. No evictions. Cancel student debt. Make education free. Expropriate the big landlords. Seize vacant, habitable spaces. No one should die on the street. Build accessible social housing on a mass scale. Nationalize the telecoms! The truth is, the only solution is revolution! Join Socialist Action today. Let’s make the revolution, together. And now, here is the socialist candidate for mayor of Toronto.
I am Kiri Vadivelu and I am running to be the next mayor of Toronto. I am the first Tamil-Canadian to run for the office, and I am the only socialist in the race. I believe good housing is a human right. Efficient public transit is a right. Climate justice is a right. So are fully funded public health services and public, quality Long Term Care.
But Toronto is in crisis, the product of a failed capitalist system that starves cities and puts private profit before people. Only radical socialist measures offer real solutions. The Municipal Socialist Alliance calls for immediate mass social housing construction, expropriation of giant landlords, and free public transit. We seek repair of our schools, and a cut of the police budget by at least 50%. We demand a climate justice agenda based on making the polluters pay to clean up their mess. We call for replacement of the “strong mayor” powers with a grassroots participatory budget process. We insist on steep taxation of the properties of big business and the rich.
It is time to tear down the waterfront blight known as the Gardiner Expressway and construct a pedestrian and bike friendly boulevard — instead of investing billions more to repair the Gardiner. Increase green space to fight climate change. Repair the Science Centre in Don Mills. No private spa at Ontario Place. More park land, not more parking space.
We will continue to protest violence perpetrated by Toronto police. We will continue to stand with marginalized communities. And we will continue to demand De-fund the Police.
Ontario Premier Doug Ford says don’t vote for anyone who wants to cut the police budget. We say: Don’t vote for anyone who voted for the police budget. Let’s build community power, working class power, from the bottom up. Organize and fight for fundamental change.
Several past and present MPs and city councilors are running for Toronto mayor, including so-called progressives. It is important to review their track record. They voted repeatedly to preserve capitalist power and privilege. Today, again, they offer vague slogans and vacuous themes. “An Affordable, Safer and Caring City,” Who doesn’t want that? But without militant mass action against the governments and corporations of the super-rich, nothing is possible. Struggle decides, not the law. Fortunately, there is a working class radical alternative to the same-old, same-old. I represent a united front of social justice activists and the left, the Municipal Socialist Alliance. We are building a grassroots movement for revolutionary change. We strive for a Workers’ Government at every level — a vital step towards the socialist transformation of society.
Join us. Vote Socialist. Vote Kiri Vadivelu for mayor!