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Modeling Alternative Societies

The Halifax left consider strategies

by Melissa Albiani

Tony Tracy expressed his support for the event.  Local feminist activists see the need for more Feminist Ally Organizing in Halifax.
Tony Tracy expressed his support for the event. Local feminist activists see the need for more Feminist Ally Organizing in Halifax.
Presentations on UK Uncut, Québec Solidaire and the Greater Toronto Workers Assembly.
Presentations on UK Uncut, Québec Solidaire and the Greater Toronto Workers Assembly.
Leanne Macmillan from the CCPA adding to the discussion.
Leanne Macmillan from the CCPA adding to the discussion.
Check out the May Day March and Rally on September 5, 2011
Check out the May Day March and Rally on September 5, 2011

A group of local labour, peace and feminist activists are looking to Toronto, Quebec and the UK for ideas on what could be done in Halifax.

At a "Solidarity Social" on August 11, the 50 participants heard a presentation by Dave Bush and Ryan Lum, on UK Uncut: Occupy for the Alternative (an example of social networking for direct action); Québec Solidaire (QS) (a political party); and the Greater Toronto Workers Assembly (GTWA) (a committee-based assembly of the broad working class movement).

UK Uncut was formed in October 2010 response to the Tory government deep cuts to public services, Bush said. Their first action was a spontaneous sit-in at the tax-dodging Vodafone Corp. branch, which was then mirrored in 55 cities and towns.  The sit-ins are organized online, and initiated by small groups at a grassroots level.  Bush says that UK Uncut seems to "appeal to a broad section of idealists" due to their loosely defined anti-austerity stance.

The presenters explained that QS and GTWA however, tend to attract from the union movement, and the extreme left.  They strive towards long-term systemic change, which makes strategy a contentious topic among a relatively wide ideological range.  In 2004 the Union des Forces Progressistes Party and the Option Citoyenne political movement merged to form QS.

In terms of overcoming differing strategic philosophies, it's GTWA that's facing the biggest challenge.  Due to a history of contention among left wing activists in Toronto, it has been a struggle just to unite the left as an alternative -- a problem that Bush thinks won't affect Halifax due to its it's small and historically supportive left community.  The GTWA has already held a conference bto address these issues of internal division, and continues to organize as ten committees to achieve their goals.

The question arose during Q & A whether the struggles sufficiently address racial issues.  Bush replied that it is hard to tell in UK uncut due to the loosely organized nature of the actions.  An audience member from Quebec spoke up for QS, saying that their mission for nationalism is less of a priority than that of economic independence.  But also not dismissing the importance of the issue.  As for GTWA, Bush speculated that they have inclusion issues due to organizing in the Toronto core, which is home to wealthier and less diverse communities.

In terms of inclusion, a participant commented during the informal discussions that feminist components of these movements were left out of the presentations.  She gave the example of QS creating the National Commission for Women in spring 2010, which wasn't mentioned.  However once checked, the site had not been updated since the announcement.  Credit to the organizers, they did mention the Feminist Action committee that was just created this summer at the GTWA.

Another forgotten fact is that the QS platform is inspired by the Women's Global Charter for Humanity.  It calls on governments to adopt policies that promote peace, equality, environmental integrity, civil liberties, solidarity and justice.

This participant brings up an important point of discussion.  She wants to see an improvement to feminist ally organizing in Halifax.

If you missed this one, there will be more Solidarity Socials to come.  Keep your eyes peeled.

 

For more information on

UK uncut: http://ukuncut.org.uk/

GTWA: http://www.workersassembly.ca/

Québec Solidaire: http://www.quebecsolidaire.net/accueil


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