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Labour Day 2015 – Workers and refugee supporters combine forces

by Robert Devet

We love dogs. Photo Simon de Vet
Bonnie Barrett of Nova Scotia ACORN on the need for a fair wage. Photo Robert Devet
Photo Simon de Vet
Photo Simon de Vet
Photo Simon de Vet
Photo Simon de Vet
Cutest militant dogs. Photo Simon de Vet
Photo Simon de Vet
Photo Simon de Vet
Photo Simon de Vet
Photo Simon de Vet
Photo Simon de Vet
Photo Robert Devet
Photo Robert Devet
Photo Robert Devet

KJIPUKTUK (Halifax) - Labour Day celebrations in Halifax are always big, but this year's event seemed just a bit bigger.

Well over 700 union members, students, poverty activists, and their pets, kids and friends, gathered in Halifax this morning to listen to speeches and march through downtown Halifax.

They also came to enjoy live music, and altogether have a good time. The weather couldn't have been better.

Labour Day is a celebration, after all.

This year the notion of solidarity took on a special and beautiful significance.

Many, moved by the plight of Syrian refugees, joined the labour march to call on the federal government to stop sitting on its hands.

The ad hoc group Refugees Welcome - Maritimes was behind that effort.

“We know that the biggest stumbling block is the federal government,” a spokesperson for the group told the supportive crowd.

“There are lots of people in Canada who want to help refugees, and help them settle here, but we can't. There are too many roadblocks, there is too much red tape.”

Speaker after speaker targeted federal and provincial austerity agendas.

“We're under the worst fight with the provincial government we have been in in years,” said Rick Clarke, president of the Nova Scotia Federation of Labour.

“We have to stand up and say no. Austerity doesn't work for our workers, it doesn't work for our economy, and it doesn't work for our province,” said Clarke, who after 26 years at the helm of the Nova Scotia Federation of Labour is set to retire in September.

Support for the federal NDP in the run up to the federal election was pronounced.

There was lots of orange among the marchers, all metro federal NDP candidates were in the crowd, and beloved Halifax MP Megan Leslie took to the podium to speak.

ACORN Nova Scotia's Bonnie Barret and Michaela Sam of the Canadian Federation of Students – Nova Scotia addressed the crowd to talk about the fair wage campaign and the fight for fifteen in Nova Scotia.

“It's crazy. We need $15 an hour to live. And we want it now,” Barrett told the cheering union members.

Follow Robert Devet on Twitter    @DevetRobert

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