All posts by YK

Socialism in the Park

Summer 2019

Three talks sponsored by Socialist Action in Christie Pits Park, at Christie and Bloor Streets, Toronto. Each presentation will be followed by questions, answers and discussion.

Where? Under the gazebo, at the foot of the hill, in Christie Pits Park, just steps from Bloor Street and the Christie subway station exit. Look for the Socialist Action canopy.

Everyone is welcome. No charge for admission. Literature will be on sale. Event will proceed rain or shine. Bring your own refreshments to share.

For more information, e-mail:


Socialism 2019: Fight Imperialism!

Socialism 2019: Fight Imperialism! – an International Educational Conference –

When: May 31 – June 1, 2019 Where: Woodsworth Res., U of Toronto, 321 Bloor St. W. at St. George (in room 20, lower level)

co-sponsored by:

  • Socialist Action / Ligue pour l’Action socialiste – Canadian state,
  • Socialist Action – USA,
  • Left Voice-USA,
  • OKDE-Greece, and
  • New Anti-Capitalist Party (NPA) – France.


Friday, May 31 7 p.m. Why Zionists are in a Panic

  • Dalia Al-Khadra, member of CAIA and Oakville Palestine Rights Association.
  • Dimitri Lascaris, lawyer, 2015 Green Party candidate in London West, just overcame an anti-SLAPP motion in his defamation lawsuit against B’nai B’rith.
  • Karen Rodman, director, Just Peace Advocates.
  • Barry Weisleder, federal secretary, Socialist Action – Canada.

Saturday, June 1 12 noon The Winnipeg General Strike, 100 Years On.

  • Bryan Palmer, Labour Historian, author of the forthcoming James P. Cannon and the Emergence of Trotskyism in the United States, 1928-1938.
  • Gary Porter, a leading member of Socialist Action, resides near Victoria, B.C.

4 p.m. From Yellow Vests to Workers’ Revolt

  • Aurelien Gavois, a rep. of the New Anti-capitalist Party (NPA), France.
  • Jeff Mackler, Socialist Action, USA, candidate for U.S. President in 2020.
  • Nour Alideeb, former chairperson, Canadian Federation of Students.
  • Sid Ryan, past president, Ontario Federation of Labour, author of “A Grander Vision – My Life in the Labour Movement.”

7 p.m. Fight Imperialism! Hands Off Venezuela, Cuba, Central America

  • Maria Paez Victor of the Louis Riel Bolivarian Circle in Toronto.
  • Jeff Mackler, national secretary of Socialist Action, USA.
  • Bob Lyons, Socialist Action/LAS, based in Costa Rica.
  • Yves Engler, Montreal-based activist and the author of ten books on Canada’s foreign policy, including “Left, Right”.

Saturday, 10 p.m. Social at a nearby pub,

The Duke of York, 39 Prince Arthur Ave., one block north and east of Woodsworth Residence.

Tickets: $15 in advance for weekend; $20 at door for the weekend; $5 per session or PWYC. Contact: 647 – 986-1917

Defeat Legault’s Racist Bill 21

The Quebec government of Francois Legault is bringing forward a bill that would outlaw the wearing of “religious symbols” by public employees. Legault’s Coalition Avenir Quebec (CAQ) holds a majority of seats in Quebec’s National Assembly. Bill 21 would target judges, police and prison guards, as well as teachers.

Premier Legault argues the law is needed to defend “laicité”, the separation of church and state, claiming even-handedness, since the crucifix which was installed 85 years ago in the chamber of deputies during the Duplessis era will be removed from the National Assembly.

In reality, the law is primarily aimed at Quebec’s Muslim community and will overtly discriminate against women with a hijab (head covering) or the smaller number of women wearing the burka (veil). When asked to justify excluding hijab clad women who want to become teachers, Legault replied arrogantly “they will just have to find other jobs.” Removing a face covering would be required to receive public services, even something as simple as riding public transit.

If the law is ultimately declared unconstitutional, Legault will likely invoke the notwithstanding clause. This was famously used to protect Bill 101, Quebec’s language law, a measure that enjoys much greater public support than the victimization of minority women enshrined in Bill 21. Banning head coverings and veils has more support in rural and small-town Quebec. Antipathy to these repressive measures is strongest in Montreal, where most cultural and religious minorities are concentrated.  

Quebec society has been roiled by Islamophobia for over ten years. First cultivated by the right wing populist predecessors of the CAQ, it was then taken up by the Parti Quebecois which tried to foist a “Charte des Valeurs” on the province in 2013. In 2017, a young man immersed in the white racist milieu opened fire at a Quebec City mosque, killing 6 and wounding 19 defenseless worshipers. 

As prospects for Quebec independence have dimmed, there has been a rise of identarian white nationalism giving an opening to right wing populist parties like the CAQ and in turn feeding more extreme manifestations of xenophobia.

Quebec Solidaire has not been untouched by Islamophobia, but in a welcome move it came out against Bill 21 at its recent National Council meeting.

An anti-racist campaign in defense of the rights of Muslim women is gathering steam. Defeating this racist and anti-woman bill will strengthen struggles against cuts in public services, attacks on wages and working conditions, and the ongoing environmental degradation and corporate plunder of Quebec’s natural wealth which is the hidden agenda of Legault’s pro-business administration.

Robbie Mahood, reporting from Montréal  

Eulogy for Eryl Court


by Barry Weisleder

Eryl Court, a devoted peace activist, a staunch feminist and a long-time supporter of Rebel Films in Toronto, passed away on November 28, at 94 years of age.   Like Moses, she lived a long time, imbued with a profound sense of hope in the potential of humanity.  Alas, like him, she was not able to witness the birth of the better world for which she strived.  We miss Eryl.  We miss her wit, her impish laugh, her zest for public discourse.  These memories are her lasting gift to us all.

I knew Eryl in a political capacity.  As the federal secretary of Socialist Action, I had the pleasure of greeting her at many of our events over the past decade.  Invariably, she sat in the front row.  That was not only so that she could better hear the proceedings.  It was there that the diminutive but indomitable, irrepressible, and eloquently outspoken Eryl could quickly gain the attention of the chairperson, and so be among the first to be called upon to speak in the open floor discussion time.

At our gatherings, Eryl would often conclude her remarks with the words: “We need a world in one piece.  That is spelled P I E C E and P E A C E.”

She was for nuclear weapons disarmament, without hesitation, without pre-conditions.  Like Tony Benn and Jeremy Corbyn, she was for unilateral disarmament by the west.  She knew that passing the buck on disarmament only ensures more wasteful military spending.  And worse, it paves the road to oblivion, and that is simply not an option.

Eryl was born in London England to the family of Samuel and Esther Levers on August 7, 1924.  She was the youngest of 3 children.  Her eldest brother, Peter Dennis Levers, died about 10 years ago in Carleton Place, Ontario.  The younger brother died in the UK quite a bit earlier.

According to the Birth Registration Certificate, the family lived in North Finchley, a suburb of London.  Subsequently they lived in a south coast town called Bognor Regis.

At the outbreak of war in 1939, in the face of German air raids, the British government decided to evacuate children to North America.  Eryl was one of the evacuees.  Her host was a family living in Wisconsin.  It seems that over the years she maintained a relationship with her host family.

Eryl traveled back to the UK at war’s end to be with her birth family.  Eventually, she returned to North America to attend the University in Toronto.  That is where she met Abe Roytenberg.

Abe had mustered out of the RCAF in late 1944.  With veteran’s grants, he attained a Bachelor of Social Work at the University of Manitoba.  He then went to the University of Toronto for a Master’s degree, where he and Eryl met and then married in 1946.

They lived in Toronto all of their married life.  Eryl gained employment as a social worker for a part of that period.  She was always concerned with social causes and they were both actively involved in left wing politics and the peace movement.

After they were divorced, Eryl married William “Billy” Court.

Eryl traveled a great deal in her advocacy for the peace movement.  She visited India and Japan in her eighties. She traveled extensively in North America, frequently attending peace conferences.  She also visited friends in the U.K.

Eryl was a constant and extensive contributor to a variety of charities and self-help promoting organizations.  She had a lengthy list of these groups which had monthly pre-authorized access to her bank account.  She gave constantly, and in death the giving continues.

Eryl’s health declined sharply in her last few months.  Fortunately, she had a dear friend, Everett Barclay.  He was her constant companion, right up to the end.

Here are some of Rett’s recollections about Eryl Court.  Rett says that Eryl studied at the University of Wisconsin in Madison.  She obtained an MA in social work.  She has always been interested in socialism.

During the bleak McCarthy era, she was active in Social Workers for Peace in Toronto.  She suffered for that professionally.  Eryl always had a lively mind.  Her interests were Shakespeare, George Bernard Shaw, and live theatre of all kinds.  Rett got to know her through a mutual interest in the Russian language.  Eryl visited the Soviet Union many times.  She was there during the Chernobyl nuclear disaster in 1986. When she returned to Canada, she appeared on the CBC television program Front Page Challenge and told of her experiences.

Rett traveled with her to Cuba, in or around the year 2000.  They were members of the Canada Cuba Friendship Association.  Eryl travelled all over the world on behalf of the peace movement. She visited Rio de Janeiro, which she described as wonderful and horrible.  She was a representative of the Unitarian Church at the United Nations in New York.  Dutifully at her computer keyboard, Eryl kept in touch regularly with peace activists.  Talking to her was like attending a university lecture.  She was also interested in world religions and philosophies.  As mentioned before, she married twice.  Her first marriage to Abe Roytenberg unfortunately ended in divorce.  She married again to Tommy Court, but that ended with his untimely death.  Later, when Abe was very ill, he came to live with Eryl and she took care of him until his death.  She maintained a very close friendship with Abe’s brother Harry and his wife Jeannette.

Thank you, Rett, for those fine recollections.

Allow me to add a few parting thoughts.  In so many ways, Eryl was an extraordinary person.  As someone famously said, “The philosophers have, hitherto, interpreted the world; the point, however, is to change it.”  Eryl set out to change the world, not to accept it as it is, not to observe its turmoil and social struggles at a safe distance, but to roll up her sleeves and work to change it for the good of us all. Eryl was a socialist and a feminist, which is why my party, Socialist Action, is so blessed to have enjoyed her company.

Eryl was a feminist long before the second wave of feminism shook the world, and true to her principles, feminists continue to expose the hypocrisy of the current federal government.  By her enduring example, Eryl answered the question:  What is the purpose of life?  It is to make life better for all.  It is to unchain the human genius from the shackles of the profit system.  It is to put an end to exploitation, plunder and war, and by our unfettered ingenuity, to fill existence with knowledge, love and beauty.

Thank you, Eryl, for sharing your life with us.

Bill 66, Ford’s latest assault

by Kurt Young*

Since it came to government, Doug Ford’s Progressive Conservative Party has been in a mad rush to ram through as much legislation as possible. Ford claims a mandate from the 2018 Ontario election where the Tories won 76 of 124 seats, but received only 40.5% of the votes cast. Their new laws are an attack on the poor and working class people of Ontario. Nothing exemplifies that better than the proposed omnibus Bill 66.

The many Schedules of Bill 66 are replete with attacks on workers’ rights. Schedule 1 removes the right of ornamental horticultural workers to form a union by adding that industry to the Agricultural Employees Protection Act. Schedule 9 states that collective agreements pertaining to construction workers will no longer be binding on public institutions, like school boards or hospitals. The bill removes protections against excessive hours of work and unpaid overtime. It makes it harder for workers to learn about their rights on the job.

Bill 66 attacks public oversight. In Schedule 8 all references to public consultation within the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care Act have been removed, save for one, which leaves the power to call public hearings with regard to Long-term Care facilities solely in the hands of an appointed bureaucrat. In Schedule 4 all references to sub-meters, a device used to monitor the power usage of individual units in an apartment complex, have been removed. Potentially, that removes apartment units from the purview of the Energy Board.

As egregious as are the above provisions, the Conservatives outdo themselves by attacking public safety. Schedule 2 of the Bill repeals the entirety of the Pawnbrokers’ Act removing the need for pawnbrokers to be licensed and removing legal guidelines when potentially dealing with stolen goods. Schedule 5 repeals the Toxic Reduction Act and Schedule 7 eliminates Ontario’s requirement for labeling upholstered and stuffed articles which will leave Ontarians ignorant of potentially harmful materials contained in the pillows, sofas and stuffed toys that consumers buy for their children. These are only a handful of the harmful provisions contained in Bill 66.

The Conservative government and Bill 66 should be opposed at every instance. But a big problem is the antiquated first-past-the-post electoral system that enables a party to gain the majority of the seats without receiving the majority of the votes. When we take to the streets to stop the Ford agenda, we should also demand proportional representation so that no government can exercise absolute legislative control against the will of the majority of the people.

* Kurt Young is a member of the Sheetmetal Workers’ Union and Socialist Action.