Mark Your Calendar!

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Toronto’s 25th Annual Toronto Socialist May Day Celebration
Their Crisis, Our Solutions

-Jorge Soberon Consul General of Cuba in Toronto
-Nancy Pridham Vice-President, Region 5, Ontario Public Service Employees’ Union
-John Clarke organizer for the Ontario Coalition Against Poverty
-Khaled Mouammar President of the Canadian Arab Federation.
-B.C. Holmes representing the Toronto Haiti Action Committee
-Barry Weisleder Federal Secretary, Socialist Action, and substitute teachers’ organizer
-M.C.: Elizabeth Byce, federal Treasurer, NDP Socialist Caucus, and retired member of the Toronto Local, Canadian Union of Postal Workers
Celebrate with entertainers: Jon Brooks, 2010 Winner Kerrville (Texas) New Folk Contest, 2009 Canadian Folk Music Award Nominee ‘Best Songwriter’, 2009 Winner NPR’s Mountain Stage NewSong Contest (Canada); Marianne Girard, roots/alternative country singer-song writer, 2009 Canadian Folk Music Award Nominee ‘Best vocalist’, with acclaimed new CD “Pirate Days”; Robert Priest, poet, playwright, songwriter and singer; Simms & Maya, singing originals, international folk songs, and performing some theatre; Glen Hornblast, folk singer on the social justice scene.
Enjoy delicious food from the menu and drinks from the bar. For details, call the Free Times Café at 416-967-1078.
At the event there will also be a literature and CDs display, a raffle (with prizes to include Cuban rum, wonderful books, posters and more) and many surprises.
Sunday, May 1, 2011 7 p.m.
Free Times Cafe, 320 College St., (2 blocks west of Spadina) Toronto, Ontario
Admission: $10 waged, $5 non-waged or PWYC
E-mail: Phone: (416) 535-8779
sponsored by Socialist Action (Fourth Internationalists in the Canadian state)
Event endorsed by: Toronto Local – Canadian Union of Postal Workers, Ontario Coalition Against Poverty, Toronto Haiti Action Committee, NDP Socialist Caucus, National Council of Latin American and Caribbean Women in Canada – Latin@s , Youth for Socialist Action, Toronto Forum on Cuba, Free the Cuban Five Cultural Committee, and the Workers’ Solidarity and Union Democracy Coalition.

Socialism 2011: Their Crisis, Our Solutions
an International Educational Conference May 19, 20, 21, 22, 2011
at Ontario Institute for Studies in Education, U of Toronto, 252 Bloor Street West
co-sponsored by: Socialist Action / Ligue pour l’Action socialiste – Canadian state, Socialist Action – USA, and the Socialist Unity League (Liga Unidad Socialista) – Mexico

Thursday, May 19
5:30 p.m. registration opens
7 p.m. End the Occupations! Permanent War or Permanent Revolution
Christine Gauvreau, leading member of SA-USA, United National Anti-war Committee, and Connecticut United for Peace; and Khaled Mouammar, President of the Canadian Arab Federation.

Friday, May 20
5:30 p.m. registration, literature sale
7 p.m. Civil Liberties Under Attack – Fight Back!
Barbara Jackman, renowned Canadian lawyer who led the successful fights to lift the border entry ban on George Galloway, and to free tortured Muslim Canadians; Jeff Mackler, National Secretary, SA-USA, coordinator of the Free Mumia Abu-Jamal campaign, of the Free Lynne Stewart campaign, and a leading opponent of the FBI raids against anti-war activists; plus Jaime Gonzalez, Organization Secretary of the LUS-Mexico.

Saturday, May 21
10 a.m. After Cancun, the Fight for Climate Justice
Terisa Turner, participant in the Cochabamba (Bolivia) Conference, and Associate Professor of Anthropology and Sociology at U of Guelph; Jaime Gonzalez Organization Secretary of the LUS-Mexico; and Dan Piper, a member of SA-USA National Committee.

12 noon Lunch break

1 p.m. What’s Wrong with our Workers’ Movement?
Barry Weisleder, Federal Secretary, SA/LAS Canada, and organizer of Toronto Substitute Teachers’ Action Caucus; Bruce Allen, V.P. of CAW Local 199 and V.P. of Niagara District Labour Council; Ajamu Nangwaya, member of CUPE 3907 and former V.P. of CUPE Ontario.

4 p.m. Origins of Sexism and the fight for Women’s Liberation Today
Christine Gauvreau, leading member of SA-USA, based in Connecticutt; and Cheri MacDonald, veteran socialist-feminist and campaigner for Ontario Coalition of Abortion Clinics.

6 p.m. Supper break

7 p.m. Marx was Right: Capitalism doesn’t work. Deepen the Global Resistance!
Jeff Mackler, National Secretary SA – USA, based in San Francisco; with supplementary remarks by Tom Baker, SA/LAS Canada.

Sunday, May 22

11 a.m. Aboriginal and Quebecois aspirations – National liberation in the Canadian state
Roger Obonsawin, President of the Aboriginal Peoples Council of Toronto, a veteran campaigner for aboriginal treaty rights; and Dr. Robbie Mahood, Montreal, SA-LAS, and past election candidate for Quebec Solidaire.

1 p.m. Lunch break, with film “Toronto G20 Exposed”

2 p.m. Closed session for SA members and invited guests. SA/LAS Convention.

4 p.m. Founding Convention of Youth for Socialist Action.

Tickets: $20 in advance for weekend; $30 at door for wkend; $5 per session (or PWYC) For more information: 416 – 535-8779

No coalition with Liberals. Fight for socialist policies! Vote NDP on May 2!

<!–[if !mso]> st1\:*{behavior:url(#ieooui) } <![endif]–> by Barry Weisleder

The defeat in the House of Commons of the most hated federal government in a long time triggered the fourth election campaign in seven years. Voters across the Canadian state go to the polls on May 2 to choose their pill for the continuing economic maladies. With unemployment at nearly 8 per cent officially (double that figure if one includes discouraged workers and the chronically underemployed), with each person on average $100,000 in debt, with homeless shelters and food banks strained to the breaking point, voters have much to ponder.

The Stephen Harper-led minority government Conservatives, mired in election financing and deceit scandals, booted from office for being found in contempt of Parliament for refusing to disclose the cost of their corporate tax cuts, and their plans for new prisons and stealth combat jets, are asking for a majority. Harper began his campaign in full attack mode, hyping the threat of “a coalition of free-spending opposition parties”. He portrayed his agenda of social cutbacks, war spending, and gifts to the rich and powerful as “staying the course”
— this in the midst of a dismal economic ‘recovery’.

The Liberals under Michael Ignatieff donned populist vestments. While skewering Harper’s (twice) undemocratic suspension of Parliament, Ignatieff championed support for more child care spaces, and for more aid to students burdened with rising tuitions. He claims to be for stronger public pensions and health care. His hope is that the electorate will forget, or at least forgive the Liberal sponsorship scandal, the severe social cuts of Prime Ministers Jean Chretien and Paul Martin in the 1990s, and Liberal decisions to send the Canadian military and police to
Afghanistan and Haiti.

Gilles Duceppe’s Bloc Quebecois advanced its demands for more federal transfer payments to
Quebec, downplayed the Bloc’s commitment to bourgeois sovereignty, and put a ‘progressive’ veneer on its pro-system perspective.

The Green Party’s
Elizabeth May concentrated on trying to win a first seat for the party. Her policies would force working people pay for the mess created by capitalism, with a regressive carbon tax, and measures that favour ‘greening’ of the private sector. Notwithstanding her platform, exclusion of May from the TV leaders’ debate, which is posed again, would be outrageous.

Jack Layton and the labour-based New Democratic Party thus had a golden opportunity to offer a refreshing and radical alternative. But
Layton started off with the totally uninspiring slogan “take the strain off your family budget, make everyday essentials less expensive”.

It is commendable that Layton wants to help seniors, extend the ecoEnergy Retrofit programme for homeowners, remove the federal sales tax on home heating bills, and put an 8 per cent cap on the interest that can be charged by credit card firms. But this is comparatively light work. The timidity of these proposals reveals something else — that the labour party brass is unwilling to reverse the huge tax concessions to big business of the past twenty years; that it lacks the courage to challenge the agenda of capitalist austerity. The NDP campaign shies away even from proposing to dismantle the country’s war budget and end Ottawa‘s participation in US/NATO aggression. Sadly, this is reflected in Layton‘s decision to back the western intervention into Libya (see article below).

Given the failed state of globalized capitalism, the need for an alternative is evident. Instead of ‘strained family budgets’, the NDP should decry the one-sided class war being waged from the top down. It should stress the need to fight back with bold socialist measures, instead of paltry reforms. Workers who vote NDP in their millions have the power to shake up their party, toss away its Liberal-look-alike policies, and make the NDP fight for society’s vast majority, the working class and the poor. Direct involvement in the NDP campaign now is critically important to that end.

Participation in a coalition government would be a dead end for labour and the left. Nonetheless, coalition is perfectly legal in
Canada and common around the world. Harper’s attempt to demonize the notion of coalition government is a crude attempt at self-preservation by exploiting political ignorance and anti-Quebec chauvinism (although the BQ has never actually been proposed as a coalition partner by any party). The fuss he’s made over a possible Liberal-NDP coalition is doubly hypocritical because Harper proposed an alliance of Conservatives, New Democrats and the Bloc as an alternative to the faltering Paul Martin Liberal minority government in 2004.

Socialists oppose coalition for a radically different reason. Coalition with the Liberals, or with any capitalist party, would seriously undermine the tenuous organizational independence of the NDP as a party of the labour movement and working people. As a partner in a Liberal government, the NDP would have to carry the can for austerity and corporate bail-outs at home, and for imperial wars of occupation abroad.

The central issue today is neither the morality nor the behaviour of the Tories (repugnant as they are). It is the continuing capitalist crisis and the assault on working people. The answer is to make Capital pay for the crisis it created. If the goal is a just and sustainable society, it only makes sense to institute a steep tax on wealth, to reverse the corporate bail-outs, and to democratize the economy.

Instead of trying in vain to tame an irrational system, it is time to break the logic of the capitalist business cycle, to get off the tread mill of endemic waste and oppression. It is time to put an end to profit from war and environmental destruction. It is time to dump the whole G20 agenda overboard. 

To that end, Socialist Action advocates a number of concrete measures, policies in the interest of working people and the vast majority of NDP voters, which the NDP should be pushed to advance: 

Put people, and the preservation of nature, before profits. Nationalize the banks, mining companies, Big Oil and Big Auto. Create jobs through public investment, public ownership, democratic planning and workers’ control. Convert industry, transportation, and homes to green energy efficiency. Rapidly phase-out nuclear power and tar sands development. Repair our disintegrating roads, bridges, railways and port facilities. Make Employment Insurance more generous and accessible. Raise the minimum wage to $17/hour. Shorten the work week to 30 hours without loss of pay or benefits. Double the benefits in the Canada Pension Plan and Guaranteed Income Supplement. Abolish student debt. Make all education free. Fund health care and the arts. No corporate bail-out. Open the company books. Steeply tax corporations, speculators, and the rich. Abolish the HST. Uphold aboriginal land claims and local self-governance. Abolish the Senate and institute direct Proportional Representation in Parliament. Stop the deportations, full rights for migrant workers. Impose boycott, divestment and sanctions against Israeli apartheid. End the occupation of
Afghanistan and Haiti. Hands off Libya. Reduce the Canadian military to a disaster-relief and rescue force. Get Canada out of NATO now!

Capitalists complain about low productivity. It’s a lie, and a diversion. It is also a delusion to think that economic expansion will fix everything, that there is a market solution to the recurring crises of capitalism. There is no market solution. The capitalist market created the problem. Only a social revolution can solve it. Only by taking control of the major means of production, only by instituting broadly participatory, democratic planning, only by effecting a rapid green conversion to meet human needs, fully in tune with nature, does humanity have a hope of survival. 

That means challenging the pro-capitalist direction of the labour and NDP leadership. It means fighting for an NDP government committed to socialist policies. It means opposing an NDP coalition with the Liberal Party or with any capitalist party. It means fighting for a Workers’ Agenda and a Workers’ Government, and organizing to win that programme inside the unions and the NDP. It means fighting for freedom for oppressed nations, for eco-socialism, feminism and LGBT liberation.

None of that is possible without a leadership committed to doing it. Indispensable is the building of a revolutionary party to campaign for fundamental change, everywhere and everyday. Central to that is the forging of a new leadership of the working class and oppressed nations that can win. It cannot be done without you.

So, please don’t wait for the next economic crash, or for the next environmental catastrophe. Isn’t the situation dire enough? Rebellion is in the air, from
Egypt to Wisconsin, from Venezuela to Palestine. Join Socialist Action. Together we can make the world a place fit for humanity.

The tragedy of NDP support for NATO bombing of Libya

<!–[if !mso]> st1\:*{behavior:url(#ieooui) } <![endif]–> by Barry Weisleder

The NDP Socialist Caucus federal conference held on March 17at U of Toronto declared its opposition to the imperialist intervention into Libya (the bombing and rocket attacks to impose a ‘no-fly zone’, and impose ‘regime change’).  The SC will campaign across the country for the anti-intervention position reflected in the resolution below, leading up to and at the NDP federal convention, June 17-19 in Vancouver.

NATO Hands off Libya!

Whereas the mass uprising of the people of Libya that began on February 15, 2011 which seeks to
oust dictator Muammar Gadaffi and end his police state, is part of the wave of popular democratic
revolt sweeping the Arab world;

And whereas Gadaffi for the past decade has cooperated with Washington and NATO, been
compliant with the U.S.-led wars of occupation, while privately pocketing billions of dollars of oil revenue,

And whereas Washington and its NATO allies seek to control Libya’s future, and can use the
claim to providing ‘humanitarian aid’, including a ‘no fly zone’ that would be accompanied by
extensive bombing and inevitably massive civilian casualties, to launch an armed invasion of the country,

Therefore Be It Resolved that the federal NDP actively campaign against any U.S. or NATO
intervention in Libya, against the proposed ‘no fly zone’, and demand the withdrawal of Canadian
war ships from Libyan waters, and demand an end to Canadian firms selling/exporting military
equipment, munitions and supplies to the region.

And Be It Further Resolved that the NDP actively encourage the opening of Libya’s borders with
Tunisia and Egypt so that partisans of the Arab democratic revolt can come to the aid of the
Libyan insurgency, and that the NDP organize solidarity with the movement of the Libyan and
Arab peoples for democracy and self-determination.

Sadly, NDP MPs joined the business class parties in Parliament in support of the western military intervention in Libya, which now is conducted by NATO, under the command of Canadian Lieutenant-General Charles Bouchard. The lessons of history seem to be lost on Leader Jack Layton and his NDP Caucus.

For generations, the Canadian state has been consistently on the side of
Israel, and against Egypt and the Arab countries. That includes during the Israeli wars against Egypt, Jordan, Syria and Lebanon. Ottawa has condoned (sometimes with mild criticism) Israeli atrocities committed repeatedly in Gaza and the West Bank, the construction of the Apartheid wall, the ongoing confiscation of Palestinian homes and farms, and the threats to bomb Iran.

Whether Conservative or Liberal, the federal government has overseen, promoted and facilitated Canadian military exports to 16 countries in the
Middle East and North Africa. Those countries included Mubarak’s Egypt, Gadaffi’s Libya and Netanyahu’s Israel. Between 1990 and 2006, the value of these exports of weapons, munitions, armoured vehicles, jets, helicopters, drones, surveillance equipment and more, was about $1.8 Billion. This has greatly profited Canadian manufacturers like Advantech, Airboss, Astra International, Canadian Airmotive, CEL Aerospace, DEW Engineering, Field Aviation Co. Ltd., (just to name a few from the first six letters of the alphabet), and the omnipresent SNC Lavalin (which is presently building a super-prison in Libya).

Of course that magnitude of trade is dwarfed by the
U.S. military aid programme to Egypt. According to the New York Times on March 13, “the aid programme ­ which has given the Egyptian military roughly $40 Billion since the program’s inception as part of the 1979 Camp David accord signed by Israel and Egypt ­ has supported a military bureaucracy prone to insider dealing and corruption.” Professor Christopher Davidson, an expert on Egypt at Durham University in England, is quoted as saying, “the generals, the Supreme Military Council, is a de facto, separate government with an economy in its own right.” Those are the generals who are drawing up a new constitution and planning elections for September.

Returning to the question of the role of the Canadian state: Is Ottawa’s record in
Egypt and the Middle East the exception, or the rule for the world as a whole? 

Look at Canada’s participation in so-called ‘peacekeeping missions’, such as in Congo in 1960 when U.N. forces isolated revolutionary nationalist leader Patrice Lumumba, facilitating his murder by a right wing, pro-colonialist, pro-mining, secessionist movement. It fits the pattern. As did
Canada‘s ‘peacekeeper’ role on the Golan Heights, in Cyprus, in Somalia, in Yugoslavia, in Haiti, and for the past decade in Afghanistan. The latter was initially touted as a ‘peacekeeping’ alternative to participation in the U.S.-led second invasion of Iraq in 2003.

Meanwhile, Canadian warships ply the waters of the
Persian Gulf in support of the U.S. occupation of Iraq, and in support of the US embargo and its military threats against Iran. Now the HMCS Charlottetown is anchored in waters off the coast of Libya, in support of a bombing campaign involving Canadian CF18s, in the name of a ‘no fly zone’. It is a prelude to an armed occupation by US/NATO forces (or their control of the rebel regime by other means), which is why socialists oppose it. 

The truth is that ‘Canadian peacekeeping’ is a myth, from start to present. It is political camouflage for imperialist intervention. Increasingly, Canadian state officials speak openly in favour of military intervention. They couch it in terms of ‘the duty to protect’ innocent civilians.

In opposing imperialist intervention, and the diplomatic charade that usually accompanies it, socialists do not argue for an isolationist policy. Indeed, our policy can be summarized in this way: Injustice knows no boundaries. Solidarity knows no borders. But solidarity starts with opposition to our own capitalist rulers, including their interventions for power, plunder and profit abroad.

This brings us to the NDP, the only mass labour-based political party in
North America.

Has the NDP leadership consistently opposed imperialist intervention, the arms industry, and militarism? Certainly, that approach would correspond to the interests of its 100,000 members, its 300,000 labour union affiliated members, and its 2.4 million mainly working class voters.

Sadly, the opposite is the case. It took years for the Canadian movement against the war in
Vietnam to win the federal NDP to an ‘Out Now’ position, to get the party to adopt a policy expressed in the slogan ‘NATO, NORAD, ICC, End Canadian Complicity’. It took years to convince the party at convention to adopt ‘Canada Out of Afghanistan Now’. The NDP Socialist Caucus and allies finally succeeded in achieving this at the federal NDP convention in Quebec City, September 2006.

We have yet to win ‘Canada Out of Haiti’, mainly for lack of a democratic opportunity to debate the issue at convention. Of course, we are not about to give up trying.

In terms of
Afghanistan, there are still occasional political relapses at the top. NDP MPs will sometimes say ‘Canadian forces can play a role as trainers or infrastructure builders in Afghanistan – even though that would mean supporting the corrupt, U.S.-imposed Karzai regime. Canadian Forces would still be engaged in combat ‘outside the wire’, since insurgents do not, as a rule, recognize military ‘training’ or ‘building’ by an occupying power as friendly activity. Sometimes NDP MPs, including the Leader, speak wistfully about ‘redeployment’ of Canadian Forces to Darfur, or to elsewhere in Africa where oil or gold or other valuable commodities cannot be harvested due to obstruction by pesky nationalists who want to control their own resources.

That brings us to the current wave of uprisings across the Arab world, including
Egypt. In early January, when the Tunisian masses launched their revolt, after a young man protested the spike in food prices by burning himself to death, the federal NDP issued a statement. It supports the Tunisian people. It says Canada is well positioned to use diplomacy (Really? Remember the election for U.N. Security Council? Ottawa was punished for its pro-Zionist policies, views shared by most NDP leaders). It says ‘stop attacks on civilians’. BUT what about demanding that then-dictator Ben Ali step down?

On January 28, NDP Foreign Affairs Critic Paul Dewar released a statement on
Egypt. It expresses hope that democratic aspirations will be peacefully realized. It urges Canada to use its diplomatic influence with Egyptian authorities (then including Hosni Mubarak) to lift the emergency law; to release detainees. It says it is time for political reforms; to review election laws, …with the input of civil society; and calls for a “fair economy, an end to corruption, for transparent representative government.” BUT what about demanding what millions of Egyptians demanded: Mubarak out! (The NDP was practically the last party to publicly support that demand.)

On February 11, Jack Layton issued a statement: New Democrats admire peaceful protesters’ courage and discipline; Mubarak’s resignation has opened the door to meaningful change; and urges the government of
Canada to use diplomatic means to ensure the process is legitimate and acceptable to the Egyptian people. BUT what about pledging support for the demands of Egyptian workers? Their unions ask that all the companies and resources Mubarak privatized be now returned to public ownership under democratic control. Democracy is about the economy too, not just about parliament.

On February 22, an NDP statement on
Libya expresses concern for protesters and condemns the regime’s use of deadly force against civilians. BUT instead of urging support for the insurgents, including that they be armed to defend themselves against Gadaffi’s hired guns, the NDP urged the UN Security Council to establish a no-fly zone in Libya‘s airspace. That requires, as U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates openly stated, extensive bombing of Libya by U.S. and allied forces. In our view, that leads, as in Iraq, to an eventual armed invasion to protect … the people (?), the oil wells (!), all no doubt to be placed under the protective shield of protective entities, like Xe (former Blackwater) Corp.

So, the more things change, the more they remain the same. NDP leaders are caught in a life-long contradiction. Their interests as capitalist politicians (the pursuit of fame, fortune, good media bytes) conflict with the interests of the millions of workers who look to the party for social justice, equality, human rights, peace, environmental sustainability … in other words, for socialism.

The Socialist Caucus is dedicated to shining a light on that contradiction, to winning the fight for socialist policies, and to challenging the cancerous global system known as capitalism. In short, the SC strives to replace capitalism with a global cooperative commonwealth. That starts with opposing the war makers at home.
The uprisings in
Egypt, and across the Arab world, show that the days of imperial rule, of capitalist rule are numbered. A new day is dawning. NDP members want to be part of that awakening.

Just say No to Canada Post demands

<!–[if !mso]> st1\:*{behavior:url(#ieooui) } <![endif]–> by Elizabeth Byce

A strong strike mandate is a good antidote to the breath-taking concessions now demanded by the Canada Post Corporation (CPC).  That is the message of leaders of the Canadian Union of Postal Workers (CUPW) to their 54,000 members. 

The latest postal strike occurred in 1997.  Collective agreements signed in 2000, 2003 and 2007 contained roll backs to severance entitlements, utilization of sick leave benefits, and included introduction of ‘team incentives’ that undermine solidarity.

Now, it appears, the union is drawing the line — which may become a mass picket line this summer — and none too soon.

Management demands include the following:  the elimination of thousands of jobs (by reduction of the internal full-time staffing ratio to 72% from 78%, reducing full-time positions at wickets, elimination of both wash-up periods, and the introduction of new mechanized equipment), slashing the pay of new hires by nearly 30 per cent, the reduction of vacation leave, a new ‘cost sharing formula’ for retirees that  would require employees retiring after December 31, 2011 to pay 100% of the premiums of the Extended Health Care Plan instead of 25%, limiting the Cost of Living Allowance (COLA) to instances when inflation increases by 8 per cent or more, the ‘adjustment’ of injury-on-duty pay from 100% down to 75%, and no pay for short term illness (absences of less than seven days).

For the last 15 years CPC has made a profit — an achievement beyond its mandate, accomplished on the backs of postal workers and by eroding service to the public. The Union‘s demands at the negotiating table include that the profits should be put back into Canada Post to improve service to everyone and to improve working conditions and wages of the workers that provide the services.

CUPW is negotiating to improve service at corporate retail counters, to increase the door mail delivery, and to introduce postal banks in communities that currently have post offices but no banking institutions. 

Canada Post has not only tried to impose roll backs on its workers, but also on all Canadians with the introduction of ‘community mail boxes’, reductiuction of post offices, service disruptions due to inadequate staffing, introduction of automation which removes a letter carrier’s ability to ensure accuracy of delivery, reduction of street letter boxes, and so on.

So a lot is at stake in this round of collective bargaining.  CUPW can revitalize itself by mobilizing its members and supporters, and return to its proud heritage of class struggle.  It can return to the exemplary role it played as a militant, democratic union in the 1960s through the 1990s.  CUPW can show the whole labour movement how to stand up to concession demands, as the bosses everywhere try to make workers pay for the global capitalist crisis.  The fight back starts with a strong strike mandate.

(Elizabeth Byce is a retired postal worker, a former 30 year activist in the Toronto Local of CUPW.)

Dudley Laws, 1934-2011, leading Toronto anti-racist fighter

<!–[if !mso]> st1\:*{behavior:url(#ieooui) } <![endif]–> by Norman ‘Otis’ Richmond, radio broadcaster for 25 years, Black community activist

Dudley Laws was known as a fear-free activist who would stand up to police brutality when many of us were too afraid to step up to the plate.

Laws joined the ancestors on March 24th after battling kidney disease. The Jamaican born Laws had stared death in the face many times. It is amazing the he lived 76 years. I always said “
Dudley was like a cat, He had nine lives.”  He was born in St. Thomas Parish, Jamaica on May 7, 1934 to Ezekiel and Agatha Laws, and was a brother to three siblings. A welder and mechanic by trade, he worked at Standard Engineering Works until he emigrated to the United Kingdom in 1955 and became involved in defending the Caribbean community. In 1965, he relocated to Toronto, Canada, where he worked as a welder and taxi driver.

Laws was most known for founding the Black Action Defence Committee in 1988 following the
Toronto police shooting of Lester Donaldson. He was once the head of the Universal Negro Improvement Association, a Marcus Garvey-inspired organization. Under his leadership its name was changed to the Universal African Improvement Association. He was deeply concerned with the education of youth and helped many young people, including my son.

Laws became prominent in the 1970s and 1980s as a critic of the then Metro Toronto Police Force, due to a number of young black men being shot by police constables, as well as leveling other allegations of racist practices against the police. He has also been prominent as an advocate for immigrants and refugees, and worked as an immigration consultant in the 1990s. He was able to travel to
Cuba and spoke highly of what he saw in that society.