Scores of people crowded into the Free Times Cafe on Saturday, May 1 for the 23rd annual Toronto Socialist Action May Day celebration. The politics, the music, the diversity of the gathering fittingly fulfilled the theme “Solidarity Against the Crisis”.
As the world descends deeper into economic depression, defiant slogans urged an alternative to labour concessions: Nationalize the auto giants, the big banks and the big oil/gas companies under workers' control! Create jobs for all through public ownership, democratic planning and a shorter work week without loss of pay or benefits. Convert industry, transportation, and homes to green energy efficiency. Fund health care, education and the arts, not imperialist wars of occupation. Hands off human rights and migrant labour. For a workers' government. No to any NDP coalition with capitalist parties.
Speakers included: Jorge Soberon, Consul General of Cuba in Toronto, John Clarke, Organizer, Ontario Coalition Against Poverty, Anitta Satkunarajah, NGO relations co-ordinator, CanadianHART, Tamil community, Nchamah Miller of the Communist Party of Colombia,
Ali Mallah, Vice-President of the Canadian Arab Federation, member of CUPE, and V.P. (Alternate) of CLC, Niraj Joshi of the Toronto Haiti Action Committee, and Barry Weisleder, Socialist Action federal secretary. The event was chaired by Elizabeth Byce, federal Treasurer, NDP Socialist Caucus, and retired member of the Toronto Local, Canadian Union of Postal Workers.
Wonderful, world-class singers and musicians entertained the crowd. The performers included: Jon Brooks, 2008 Porcupine Winner ‘Mac Beattie Award’, 2007 Canadian Folk Music Award Nominee ‘Best Songwriter’; Marianne Girard, roots/alternative country singer-song writer who debuted selections from her new CD 'Pirate Days'; Bill Heffernan, activist, teacher and song smith; Glen Hornblast, folk singer on the social justice scene; and Smokey Dymny, an IWW rebel troubadour. - Barry Weisleder