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May Day Grows

Participants frustrated by police actions but encouraged by show of support

by Kaley Kennedy

 “This year’s event shows our steadily increasing strength.”   Photo: Rosie Oilfoot
“This year’s event shows our steadily increasing strength.” Photo: Rosie Oilfoot
“This is not a day of protest, it is a day of celebration!”  Photo: Rosie Oilfoot
“This is not a day of protest, it is a day of celebration!” Photo: Rosie Oilfoot
Police made three arrests during May Day activities in Halifax.  Photo: Rosie Oilfoot
Police made three arrests during May Day activities in Halifax. Photo: Rosie Oilfoot

Workers from Nova Scotia marked this year’s May Day in Halifax at the biggest May Day event in recent memory.

“This is not a day of protest, it is a day of celebration,” Dave Shaw, Atlantic Regional Organizer from the Public Service Alliance of Canada and the event's MC, told a crowd of about 200 people gathered at Victoria Park. He noted that the event was at least 5 times larger than the previous year.

The rally included speakers from several unions including the Canadian Union of Postal Workers, the Canadian Union of Public Employees, and the Public Service Alliance of Canada. Speakers spoke on an array of issues impacting workers, ranging from cuts to public sector jobs, and the need for increases to the Canada Pension Plan, to the Africville settlement and the implications of the Canada-Columbia Free Trade Agreement currently being negotiated.

This was the fourth annual May Day celebration organised by the Halifax May Day Committee. According to Tony Seed, co-chair of the Halifax May Day Committee, the committee includes trade unionists, unorganized workers, and students.

“[May Day 2010] was the largest yet and included the broadest participation, including the largest participation of workers.” said Seed after the rally and march. “We had the participation of some major unions who are resisting the attack of the Harper and Dexter governments and on public sector workers.”

Colleen Hodder spoke on behalf of one such union: the Public Service Alliance of Canada (PSAC). She spoke about the significant levels of privatization currently being undertaken by the Harper government, and the resulting job losses.

“We will not allow the Harper government to punish workers for a crisis that we are not to blame for,” said Hodder, who is the Alternate to Regional Executive Vice-President for the PSAC - Atlantic Region. Hodder and other speakers highlighted the government’s indications that it may sell off Canada Post.

“We’re asking to keep our jobs. That’s all we’re asking,” said Mike Moeller, who spoke on behalf of the Union of Postal Communications Employees Atlantic, a component union of PSAC that represents some post office workers.

More than just speaking about job losses and trade issues, the programming included connections to local struggles. Postal worker and local activist Denise Allen spoke on issues facing former residents of Africville.

“’Sorry for your loss’ is not an apology, it’s condolences,” said Allen on the topic of the recent Africville apology from Halifax Mayor Peter Kelly. “We didn’t lose it, it was destroyed by racism. It was destroyed by classism.”

Following the rally at Victoria Park, protesters march down Spring Garden Road to Grand Parade. The march and rally were followed by a forum at the Mi’maq Native Friendship Centre that included a performance from  spoken word artist El Jones and speeches from several workers.

While marchers were able to take the street on Spring Garden Road, something that police blocked anti-G8 protesters from doing last weekend, there was a significant police presence at the demonstration.

 “I hope the police will have a little more restraint than last week, beating on innocent women and protesters,” said Jeff Callahan from the Canadian Union of Postal Workers (CUPW) at Victoria Park, in reference to the Monday arrest of CUPW employee Toni Macaphee.

Prior to the rally, someone had also scrawled “No cops in our demo” on an electrical box in Victoria Park.

During the march there were three arrests. Two arrests involved an overturned mailbox, but no charges were laid. The third arrest resulted in a ticket for a cycling infraction.

Following the arrests, there was a resolution passed by those present entitled the  Halifax Declaration Against the Criminalization of Dissent and in Defence of the Rights of All.

River Smith, a participant in the day’s events, disagreed with the police’s actions during the day.

“I feel good about the fact that people came out and got their voices heard,” said Smith, “but I don’t feel good about people getting arrested for nothing.”

 Overall, organizers and attendees seem hopeful that May Day will continue to grow.

Kyle, Buott President of the Halifax-Dartmouth District Labour Council, who endorsed the day’s event, hopes to see an increased presence from union members in next year’s events.

“We’re hoping to increase the number of locals who are involved in the  event,” he said.

 “This year’s event shows our steadily increasing strength,” said Seed.

For Rosie Oilfoot's photo essay of May Day, click here. 


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Topics: Labour
736 words


no sympathy for mailbox topplers

Toppling a mailbox during a May Day march? Wow. Way to stick it to the capitali... er, I mean the workers and public services.

mailbox topplers: we are everywhere...

Just thought I'd point out the obvious in response to Julie's comment above:

Post boxes are the property of Canada Post, a crown corporation. Canada Post is an employer that is known for its attacks on postal workers. Postal workers were among those who marched on may day; they have a strong history of resistance in Canada which includes militant action. I understand they currently face layoffs in Antigonish.

I think we should be a little more thoughtful and critical when we talk about "public services". Whether services are provided by the state, subsidiaries of the state, or private firms, the fundamental social relations of class (ie. private property, the exploitation of labour) are present.

Who is going to have to right

Who is going to have to right that post office box? The state or the worker?

Mailbox toppling!?

Mail Box topplers; We are everywhere? So, did the two black blockers talk to the members of CUPW who were taking a leading role at this event before they went ahead with toppling the mailbox? No! Who do you think rights the mailbox after the anarchists get their kicks feeling h-core by knocking it over? CUPW members, or the management of Canada Post? This is NOT solidarity! It was a shallow and ill-conceived symbolic action.

Knocking over a Mailbox to get a dig in at Canada Post in solidarity with CUPW members, is kind of like trashing the bathroom of a hotel in solidarity with the Janitors.

I do not "respect your diversity of antics". Your strident rhetoric lacks any material basis. Your anti-authoritarianism imposes a decision of two people on the entire group. It is self-contradictory; it is theoretically and strategically bankrupt. The only basis it has is in the bourgeois notion of tolerance, which serves any end.

Oppose the black block as the counterrevolutionary brats that they are.

Pointing out the obvious

 I just thought I would point out the obvious in response to anon comments above. 

How does toppling a mailing a Canada Post mailbox further the elimination of a class society?  Seriously.  How?  

I think the two boneheads (and others) who do stuff like this need to seriously sit back and ask themselves why they are doing the work of agent provocateurs.  They may not themselves be agent provocateurs, I don't know them, but they must know that this is the exact type of thing an agent provocateur would do.  At a rally with old and young, union and non-union workers, these people decide to knock over a CP mailbox when CUPW members are there (who, and not incidentally, will be the workers dealing with any problems arising from a toppled mailbox).  

Sorry to say, but to me, from my experience with people engage in this type of activity, they are just a bunch of upper middle class white kids with a sense of entitlement so large an heiress would guffaw.  Lets get down to the real work of organizing the working class, the unemployed, and others are the margins of our society.  


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